Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR) current mantra is cooperative federalism. He believes the one-size-fits-all theory pushed by central governments is not working, and that states have to be equal partners. The country can’t afford to waste enormous resources on inefficient institutions and processes when the immediate need is to maximise growth, says KCR. The cure he suggests is greater financial autonomy to states, a review of centrally sponsored schemes, discontinuing various levies slapped on the states and aligning resources with responsibilities.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi government claims the state spends
Rs 40,000 crore a year on various welfare schemes. This has made the state’s debt situation stressful. To tackle this, the TRS chief wants to increase tax devolution to 50 per cent of the divisible pool of central taxes and faults the Centre for imposing conditions on borrowings, saying it is not justifiable.
KCR does not have a credible action plan, says Congress leader G. Narayan Reddy. Telangana already has debts of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, almost 150 per cent more than the actual revenues for one full year. The state must learn to utilise funds in a judicious manner instead of resorting to huge borrowings. This is the TRS ego at work, blocking centrally sponsored schemes, says BJP Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narasimha Rao. It’s an injustice on the people, not implementing, say, Ayushman Bharat and diluting the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
The Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) is even more critical: How can a party that has no internal autonomy and works as a family fiefdom convince anyone about federal changes? asks TJS vice-chairman P.L. Vishveshwar Rao.