B.Vinod Kumar, Telangana Planning Board vice-chairman
| Photo Credit: File Photo
He’s regarded a part of the core think-tank closely associated with Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao since Day One of floating the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, now known as Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), with the single-point agenda of achieving statehood for Telangana. In a candid interview with B.ChandrashekharState Planning Board vice-chairman B.Vinod Kumar speaks on various poll issues. Edited excerpts:
What is the main poll plank on which BRS is asking the people to support it for the third time in a row?
We are going to the people only on the agenda of development, by building our narrative on ‘naadu-nedu’ – what was Telangana earlier and what it is now. The change is clearly visible to everyone. From the days of 12-hour power cuts in rural areas, power holidays to industries and only six-hour supply to farming mostly at night with only 7,778 megawatt capacity transmission, the State has reached a stage of providing uninterrupted 24×7 supply to all categories of consumers by taking the transmission capacity to 26,000 MW. The State also boast of highest growth rate in power capita energy consumption.
On the irrigation front, the State’s rise to the top position in paddy production with 3 crore tonnes by surpassing Punjab is ample proof of the transformation brought about after construction 20 new major reservoirs under Kaleshwaram and other projects. It has been possible as the household leader has been at the helm of affairs. Besides, law and order has been the important feature of BRS governance with no instance of curfew. Reorganisation of districts to take the administration closer to people and establishing government medical colleges in all districts have also been revolutionary steps.
What are the pre-poll promises, in your view, that the BRS has failed to keep in its two terms?
To be honest, we could not construct the double-bedroom houses in desired measure due to non-availability of government land in villages. That’s the reason the government has launched ‘Gruhalakshmi’ scheme to fund construction of house on own site by eligible families. Another one is 3-acre land to Dalits. Again, non-availability of government and private land and very high prices of private lands have hindered its implementation, forcing it to launch Dalit Bandhu.
Don’t you think there is discontent among some sections of the electorate such as unemployed youth?
True to some extent. Youth always reacts immediately. Everybody can’t be given a government job. The private sector also generates huge employment and that’s why the government has been encouraging industries with best policies. The government has also got the Presidential Order amended to ensure locals get 95% of jobs.
Since 2014, the BRS government has sanctioned filling up of 2,32,308 vacancies in two phases. Of those, 2,02,735 vacancies were notified with 1,44,096 in the first phase and 58,639 in the second phase. The selection process has been completed for 1,60,083 posts, including 1,41,735 in first phase and 18,348 in second phase. Filling of another 42,652 vacancies is under process, including 2,361 in first phase and 40,291 in second phase.
The previous Congress government has filled only 24,000 jobs in combined Andhra Pradesh with Telangana’s share standing at hardly 10,000. We need to take this into people, particularly the youth, deeply to rebut the Opposition criticism in the time left for polling.
Is the party trying to prune the number of beneficiaries for Rythu Bandhu investment support by limiting the extent?
I don’t think the Chief Minister will agree to it. There are not many large farmers in the State and even if there are some, they will get mutation done of the landholding for availing such schemes. One can’t avoid it technically. As per statistics, the marginal (up to one hectare holding), small (1 to 2 hectare) and small medium (2 up to 4 hectare) farmers control 86.3% of the total extent of cultivable land. Those having landholding from 4 hectares up to 10 hectares have 11.5% land under them and the remaining 2.3% of land is held by those holding 10 hectares or more landholding.
When do you think the government would be able to complete Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project, Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme and other projects, in all respects including field channels?
They all would be completed within a short span of three years as works are in progress. The pace of works will pick up after elections. The State’s economy is on the threshold of a leap forward stage now and firming it up would help it take a quantum jump over the next few years to ensure completion of all projects in the pipeline. It’s for the people — the intellectuals and educated sections, the middle class, farmers, youth and others to support BRS for continuation of the good work being done so that its top-performing position is not altered or affected.