KCR's 24-hour free power to farmers: Is it real or just a claim?
Telangana’s ruling Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and the opposition Congress party have locked horns over the 24-hour free power supply to farmers, which the government claims is real but the latter dismisses as fake.
Both parties have mobilized their might to prove their arguments.
The state is now witnessing protests by the Congress at sub-stations demanding proof of 24-hour power supply. Pro-BRS farmers are condemning what they say is a Congress design to scrap the 24-hour power supply scheme to farmers if they come to power.
The controversy erupted following PCC president A Revanth Reddy’s purported remark at an NRI meeting in the US on July 10 that there was no need for 24-hour free supply to the farming sector and a three-hour quality supply was enough.
BRS saw in the statement a big opportunity to attack the Congress, which has almost taken a rebirth in Telangana to emerge as a real challenger in the Assembly elections scheduled in December.
Revanth sparks fire
No sooner did Revanth’s statement appear on social media than BRS working president and IT minister KT Ramarao declared that the Congress was anti-farmer. He warned people against the Congress, which he said had plans to scrap the round-the-clock free power scheme to farmers if it took power.
He asked TRS farmers to organize 10 days of protest meetings and pass a resolution against Revanth’s three-hour power supply to farmers. Such meetings are being held in every Mandal in the state. All ministers and MLAs have been asked to mobilize farmers against Revanth.
A fierce campaign to save the 24-hour power supply and reject the three-hour supply has begun across the state.
Never in the past has the BRS taken a statement by a Congress leader so seriously. Many a time the party was declared dead by BRS president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. Now the situation has changed so drastically that the Congress is seen as a real threat to a possible hat trick by the BRS in December.
The BJP, which made so much noise about defeating KCR, provoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-dynasty talk, has disappeared from the scene. Now, the party is badly in need of a visit by a central dignitary like Amit Shah to boost the morale of its cadre.
No wonder, a festive atmosphere of revival is in the Congress camp, with many influential BJP and former BRS leaders choosing to join the party.
BRS’ oversensitivity to Revanth’s statement on free power supply seems to expose the falsity of the 24-hour free power supply which chief minister KCR has been using as a lure to attract voters in neighbouring Maharashtra.
KCR is peddling the “Abki Baar Kisan Sarkar” slogan to extend the party in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra where farmers’ suicides are rampant. His principal message for the spread of BRS in Marathwada is that Maharashtra farmers would also get 24-hour free power supply as in Telangana.
But the BRS’ disproportionate reaction to Revanth’s statement has made the 24-hour supply a questionable claim.
Amid the BRS’s agitation to brand the Congress as anti-farmer, Congress MP Komatireddy Venkatareddy sprang a surprise by showing a logbook of power supply maintained by a sub-station.
According to the logbook, the BRS government has never supplied 24-hour free power to the farming sector. Displaying the logbook, Komatireddy said power was supplied only for nine or 10 hours, that too with interruptions.
The Congress leaders also said what was made available was a single-phase supply which was not useful for agriculture.
“The farm sector needs a three-phase power supply,” he said, and pledged to resign from the Lok Sabha if IT minister KT Ramarao proves that 24-hour free power supply was indeed given.
Embarrassed by the leak of logbooks, the government has reportedly removed books from the substations. The Congress says the removal of log books clearly vindicates the claim that 24-hour supply was a bogus claim.
However, Rural Development Minister Erraballi Dayakar Rao said the government was indeed ready to supply 24-hour power but there was no need.
Many ministers such as T Harish Rao and A Indrakaran Reddy recalled what was termed as dark days of the earlier Congress government could not provide enough power.
When reporters asked D Prabhakar Rao, the CMD of GENCO and TRANSCO, about the veracity of the 24-hour power supply to farmers, he evaded a direct answer.
Talking to the media in the temple town Vemulawada on July 17, Rao said: “It is the quality of the supply, not the duration, that is important. We have been supplying quality power to farmers. There have been no complaints from farmers about drying up of crops.”
As their point was almost proven correct, the Congress has intensified its attack on the government, which has the potential to embarrass the BRS chief KCR during his next visit to Maharashtra on August 1. In all the meetings in Maharashtra, KCR highlighted only two points — uninterrupted 24-hour free power to the farm sector and water to every acre.
Talking to The Federal, Congress working president Dr. Mallu Ravi said the party would incorporate the 24-hour free power to farmers in the party election manifesto.
“On May 14, 2004, YS Rajasekhar Reddy affixed his first signature on the order relating to free power to farmers. We will continue the tradition. Chief Minister KCR is misleading the people in Telangana and elsewhere with the false claim. Now he is exposed. We will tell this to the people of Maharashtra as well through an appropriate medium,” Dr Ravi said.