16-08-201916-08-2019 15:04:43 IST
Updated On 16-08-2019 15:05:24 ISTUpdated On 16-08-20192019-08-16T09:34:43.505Z16-08-2019 2019-08-16T09:34:24.077Z - 2019-08-16T09:35:24.208Z - 16-08-2019
Veteran politician and TDP senior leader Rayapati Sambasiva Rao has been one of the bitter critics of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy ever since the latter broke away from the Congress and floated YSR Congress Party. There was hardly an instance when the Guntur strongman has taken kindly to the YSRCP chief in his criticism.
The senior leader, who is widely speculated to join the BJP sooner or later, caused flutters on Friday when he heaped praise on the governance of Jaganmohan Reddy. His observations came during his interaction with the media in Tirumala following a darshan of Lord Venkateswara.
He said that Jagan’s rule since assuming power has been good. He even endorsed the government’s argument that the chief minister’s basket of welfare schemes, ‘Navaratnalu’, is facing a severe funds crunch. Sambasiva Rao went a step further blaming the Narendra Modi government at the Centre ‘for not cooperating with the state’ in this regard.
He however sidestepped the issue of his political future, merely saying he will soon take a call on which party to sail with. The sudden softening of Rayapati’s stand towards Jagan is being received with a sense of surprise and shock within the political circles. It assumes more significance in the wake of the speculation that he is all set to quit the Telugu Desam Party and join the BJP whose NDA retained power at the Centre.
Even as his ‘new-found liking’ to Jagan is being attributed to fluctuating political interests, there are some who believe that this is actually the ‘smart businessman’ in Rayapati that is talking. Soon, this feeling has sparked off speculation that Sambasiva Rao is in fact looking to throw his hat into the Polavaram contracts once again.
It’s common knowledge that Rayapati Sambasiva Rao has major stakes in Transstroy, the erstwhile contracting company of the prestigious Polavaram irrigation project. The Kiran Kumar Reddy-led Congress government -- the last regime of the unified state -- favoured Rayapati’s company for the contract worth Rs 4,717 crores in the year 2012. Transtroy quoting 14 per cent less than the project cost was cited as the ‘reason why it was chosen’ ahead of four other competing firms.
It was largely speculated then that Transstroy was bestowed with the contract as part of the Congress party high command’s efforts to placate Rayapati who was sulking over not getting a berth in the Union cabinet.
Post bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the senior Parliamentarian was among the many Congress leaders who switched their loyalties to the Telugu Desam Party. In the ensuing elections in 2014, he contested on a TDP ticket from Narasaraopet and won the Lok Sabha seat. Even at that time, Rayapati was rumoured to have switched over to the TDP mainly to make sure the Polavaram contract remained firmly in Transstroy’s grasp.
However, Transstroy received a jolt subsequently when the Chandrababu Naidu government replaced the Rayapati firm with Navayuga. The move came in the wake of allegations over non-compliance of deadlines and the quality of multiple works as part of the contract. The TDP government was also at the receiving end of criticism for allegedly shrugging off all the shortcomings to clear bills to Transstroy.
Rayapati, who was then believed to have no option but to gulp down the shock, continued in the TDP only to lose the electoral battle from Narasaraopet in 2019 amid a massive Jagan wave.
At a time when he is widely speculated to jump over to the BJP, his ‘positive assessment of Jagan and his government’ has added a new twist. Those who have seen the shrewd politician operate both on political and business fronts believe that this could be a part of Rayapati’s overtures to the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government. He could be seeing a great opportunity especially after the state government has decided to cancel the Polavaram works awarded to Navayuga.
If the suggestions are anything to go by, the idea behind the change in stand is to appease Jagan by first creating positive vibes with his government before ‘testing the waters’ even further. But with Jaganmohan Reddy determined to go for a transparent ‘reverse-tendering’ system with the help of a judicial commission, it is going to be a tough task for any aspiring contractor to influence deals, as it could be done in the past.
Whether Rayapati is harbouring similar hopes or not, he certainly grabbed all the eyeballs with his latest statement on Jagan.
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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