Andhra Pradesh is changing. Literally. And the change began on 30 May when YS Jaganmohan Reddy took oath of office at the Indira Gandhi Municipal stadium in Vijayawada.
The first file the new chief minister signed was to increase the pension amount to senior citizens from Rs 2000 to Rs 2250. Jagan also announced that this scheme would be henceforth called `YSR pension kanuka’ (YSR pension gift). Under the Telugu Desam government, this was called `NTR Bharosa pension scheme’ (NTR Trust pension scheme).
The mid-day meal scheme, one of the few schemes not named after any leader, will henceforth be called YSR Akshaya Patra, with Jagan enhancing the honararium given to mid-day meal scheme workers from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000.
During its tenure, the Chandrababu Naidu government named every scheme after either NTR or Chandrababu Naidu. The canteens selling subsidised food, modelled on Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu (named so after Jayalalithaa) were called Anna canteens as NTR was fondly referred to. Now YSR Congress activists, taking a cue from Jagan’s early decisions, have started renaming them as Rajanna canteens because Rajasekhara Reddy was called Rajanna by his followers.
The first one to undergo the change, even though there is no formal government order, was the Anna canteen at the Market centre in Narasaraopet in Guntur district. It was painted in YSR Congress party colours, renamed as Rajanna canteen and had photographs of YSR and Jagan at the entrance. The Telugu Desam can only see red because during its rule, the canteens were painted yellow, the TDP party colour.
Once the cabinet is reconstituted on 8 June, each ministry is likely to look at all the schemes under its purview. As part of branding himself as the elder brother in every family of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu had started naming schemes after himself, using the prefix `Chandranna’. These are likely to be the first to be changed.
These included Chandranna Bima Yojana (insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh for unorganised workers), Chandranna Sankranti Kanuka (distribution of subsidised essential commodities to BPL card holders in a gift hamper during Sankranti festival), Chandranna Sanchaara Chikitsa (mobile health clinics), Chandranna Vidya Deepam (scheme to provide IIT coaching to students in government schools), Chandranna cheyutha (financial assistance to unemployed youth and self-help groups), Chandranna videshi vidya deevena (financial assistance to poor students to pursue higher education abroad), Chandranna Ramzan taufa, Chandranna Christmas kanuka and Chandranna Kapu Bhavan (for the Kapu community).
Will it make a difference to the people of Andhra Pradesh? Unlikely. Because money by any other name, would still be as precious.
The TDP during its five years in power was also guilty of removing any connect to the previous Congress regime. In June 2015, it changed the name of the multipurpose Polavaram project by dropping the name Indira from its title. The Indira Sagar Polavaram project was renamed as Polavaram Irrigation project, a move the Congress party had termed as a sign of “political bankruptcy” by the TDP government.
When YSR was chief minister between 2004 and 2009, the TDP had created a stink over naming of the new Hyderabad airport after Rajiv Gandhi. It protested that the domestic terminal at the old Hyderabad airport was called NTR Terminal and therefore part of the airport should have borne the TDP founder’s name.