Is KCR, a new-age Muhammad bin Tughluq?
   07-Aug-2019
 

 
Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrashekar Rao  
 
 
The recent whimsical announcement of Rs 10 lakh to every household in his native village by Telangana’s Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has come under criticism, earning him the sobriquet ‘new age’ Mohammed bin Tughluq
 
Sudhir Bisht 
 
Chandrashekar Rao took oath as the Chief Minister of Telangana for the first time in June 2014 but went for early elections for the Telangana legislative assembly. His decision to shorten the tenure of his government cost the exchequer close to Rs 13 crore due to advancing an election by nine months. I wrote a detailed piece to arrive at this figure and readers who may be interested in delving more into the calculations behind this number of 13 crore can click here https://www.rediff.com/news/column/why-kcrs-early-poll-call-must-be-condemned/20180925.htm
 
The almost whimsical decision of shortening the life of a democratically elected state government is not an isolated instance of KCR’s quirky behaviour. Upon getting elected as the Chief Minister for the second time in December 2018, KCR delayed the announcement of his cabinet by sixty days.
 
The state of Telangana didn’t have a council of ministers for two months. No reason was given for such idiosyncratic behaviour of KCR. Most political observers blame his obsession with doing important things only when his celestial stars attain auspicious positions in the sky. KCR’s fixation with astrology falls just short of insanity. The supreme leader and founder of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) first advanced polls by nine months and then delayed the cabinet formation by two months. He thus robbed his citizens of the benefits of a democratically elected government because he ruled the state for nine months with a lame-duck government and for two months with no elected government at all.
 
While the recklessness of KCR is something that must have sent waves of frenzied delight across the households of three villages, it is bound to give rise to anger among the rest of Andhra citizens 
 
These two acts represent KCR’s penchant for utter disregard for the tenets of orderly conduct that behoves a senior statesman. He thinks that he owes no explanation to anyone for his bizarre decisions. He gets elected, riding on his hero like status for splitting Andhra Pradesh into two states, by promising to the electorate that by separating from the rich coastal belt, the Telangana people will be blessed with windfall gains.
The most absurd act of KCR was however reserved for July 22, 2019. On that day during a visit to his native village Chintamadaka, he announced that his government would give Rs 10 lakh worth of benefits to every household of his village. He later added two neighbouring villages of Machapur and Seetarampalli whose households too will get Rs 10 lakh worth of benefits. The bounty to the households of these three villages will cost the state government Rs 200 crore.
 
I quote from various newspapers the exact announcement of KCR as under:
 
“I am granting it (the benefits of up to Rs 10 lakh) right away, and the GO will be issued tomorrow. This 10 lakh would be given to all, irrespective of caste and religion. I know that everyone here is in debt; there is no upper caste who is well-off here.”
 
“This is a sign of my love to every individual in this village, which has made me who I am,” KCR said.
The profligate CM then added, “The villagers can set up a poultry farm, the same person can set up a dairy farm. They could buy a tractor, paddy harvesting machines, set up small industries or buy auto-rickshaws—there won’t be any objection. There is no rule that the money should be spent only for one specific purpose.”
 
While the recklessness of KCR is something that must have sent waves of frenzied delight across the households of three villages, it is bound to give rise to anger among the rest of Andhra citizens.
 
I spoke to a few youngsters who work in Hyderabad and sweat it out at some of the hundreds of software companies that dot Hyderabad. They all expressed disgust at the excessively large dole given out by KCR to “his own people.”
 
One youngster wondered if the household that would suddenly find itself richer by Rs 10 lakh was deserving of the largesse in the first place. She accused KCR of being parochial and narrow-minded.
 
Another person poured out his anguish in his comment that says, “Is KCR the Chief Minister of only these three villages? KCR is the same man who fought for the division of erstwhile United Andhra because he felt the coastal region was getting most of the funds. And upon becoming the Chief Minister, is he not guilty of perpetuating the same lopsided development of the state. Why is he giving this gift to just three villages while ignoring the rest of the state that contains nearly ten thousand villages?”
 
KCR is not distributing the money from his own pocket or from his party’s coffers. He is behaving like an Emperor who is on a money splurging spree. His eccentricity reminds me of Muhammad bin Tughluq, the ruler of Delhi sultanate who ruled large parts of India from 1325 to 1351 A.D.
 
Tughluq like KCR started off as a capable ruler but he soon lost his way. He was a ruler who was fond of charting his own course without much thought to the consequences his strange action could bring to his citizens. He forced migration of tens of thousands of households from Delhi to Deogir, a distance of over 1200 kms, in an era when there was no mechanized mode of transport. All in the name of making his sultanate’s capital shift to the location from where he could more easily oversee his conquests in Southern India.
 
Even though the shifting of capital served just the purpose of his military, Tughluq inflicted enormous hardship on the entire population of Delhi that was ruined by the massive migration of people. And when it dawned upon Tughluq that he had erred in shifting of his capital to the city of Daulatabad, he ordered that the Delhi be made the capital city again. The second migration took place within just eight years.
 
Tughluq is also notorious for taking another very wild and outlandish decision. In 1330 after the disastrous voyage to Deogir, the unconventional Sultan took another controversial step. He issued coins of base materials like brass and copper and valued them on par with the gold and silver coins. The brass and copper coins were, however, minted easily by many a people and these imitation coins appeared the same as the coins minted in the Government-owned mints. This led to a massive devaluation of coins and they became worthless.
 
History remembers Tughluq as ‘Pagal Sultan (mad King)’ but Tughluq’s weird decisions had some merit at least compared to the decisions that have been taken by KCR. Tughluq shifted his capital from the established city of Delhi because he had ambitions to rule all over India and he wanted to rule India from a more central location. His plan of using copper and brass coins instead of coins of more noble metals was undone by mass-scale counterfeiting. Otherwise, this plan would have helped Tughluq tide over his financial insolvency at least temporarily.
 
Tughluq can be called a King whose bizarre experiments failed.
What should we call KCR?
 
He takes decisions based upon the planetary positions and disburses money just because the receivers happen to be his village folks.
 
The unfortunate thing is that there are no debates, no outrage and no candlelight vigils against the eccentricities of KCR.
 
Long Live Democracy in KCR’s Telangana.
 
(The writer is an author and columnist)