Collector’s conference: Chandrababu presses babus into people’s projects

Collectors Conference Vijayvada

Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has unleashed a big ticket initiative to influence people and win friends everywhere from the countryside to the sprawling urban centres. In this endeavour, he has pressed into service the collectors, secretaries and ministers. Interestingly, for the first time Tehsildars would also participate; through through video-conferencing.

On February 23 and 24 (in Vijayavada), he would interact, like he did in December, with his aforementioned officials on urbanization, industrialization, status of agriculture and the facilities provided to this core sector, welfare of the scheduled castes and tribes. You name a subject of development, and it’s there on the agenda of the official conference.

The central focus of Naidu seems to be orienting officials into running all rural projects at full throttle. Having persuaded persuaded farmers to give up their ancestral land for new Andhra capital through measures that would add new chapters in Booth, Harvard and IIM courses on good governance, he has set in motion the practice of administration remaining in touch with farmers and involving them in all development projects meant for them. This has put Andhra, once a state with highest number of cases of farmers’ suicide, on the fast track to emerge as the country’s second cradle of organic farming after North-eastern states.

This has created its own dynamics, and Naidu naturally wants to be seen as a partner of farmers as well as of all those groups of people involved in the new growth story of Andhra. In this exercise of influencing people and winning friends, Naidu has put the state bureaucracy at the centre of things. Because it is the functioning of this organ of the state that creates perception for winning or losing an election.

A look at the issues to be considered in the forthcoming conference may make it clear what Naidu is targeting at. They range from supplies of micro-nutrients to women’ s and children’s health, from the development of tourist sites in villages to promotion of agro-processing industries, development of new capital to improvement of existing municipalities, nothing is excluded from the purview of administrative support and how it has to be delivered. And everywhere, it’s the shadow of district collector that touches people rather than state chief minister.

While Naidu is as focused on industrializing his bifurcated new stated – he’s already taken a host of measures in this direction, he has overcome his erroneous zones and doesn’t want to be seen ignoring the interests of farmers and peasants who constitute the largest vote bank in the country in every state.

Last time, his love for computer technology helped earn Hyderabad the nick name of Cyberabad, but made him lose the election and put him in a relative oblivion for a decade. This time round, he wants farmers to provide the backbone to his dream of industrialization. And for this purpose, he has leaned on the shoulders of the state bureaucracy and its leadership provided by IAS officers. If these officers remain in touch with farmers and their issues on a permanent basis and involve all the people concerned in administration, it will be quite a smart achievement on the part of Naidu.

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