Jagan’s 2016 protest puts him in a fix in 2019

On 2 May 2016, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for the Kaleshwaram Irrigation project. It envisaged providing water to 30 lakh acres in Karimnagar, Warangal, Adilabad, Medak and Nizamabad districts. 

Two weeks later, Jaganmohan Reddy, then the Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh sat on a three-day deeksha to protest against the then Telugu Desam government’s inability in preserving Krishna river waters and prevent Telangana from planning irrigation projects on the Godavari river. Though the protest was specifically about Telangana’s Palamaru-Dindi project over river Krishna, the fact that it came immediately after the Kaleshwaram event, did not go unnoticed. 

“Just because the river flows from there to here, you cannot say that I will use whatever I need and then send what remains, to Andhra Pradesh. You cannot talk like Hitler. Both KCR and Naidu must get wisdom and take steps forward. How will we survive without water is a valid concern. Otherwise it will become like India and Pakistan. That will not be good for the country,” Jagan had thundered, not using polite language for the Telangana CM.

Jagan’s protest led to an equal and opposite reaction from Telangana. The then Irrigation minister and KCR’s nephew, Harish Rao said a 1000 Jagans and 100 Chandrababus cannot stop the project. 

“The YSR Congress chief is enacting dramas for selfish ends and his efforts will boomerang as he will face the wrath of the Telangana people for his conspiracy against Telangana’s projects,” Harish Rao had then said.

A lot of water has flown down the Godavari since then, the most notable change being the ascent of Jagan to the Andhra CM’s chair. Now KCR wants to invite Jagan to the inauguration of the Kaleshwaram project on 21 June. 

KCR who has already invited Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Governor Vidyasagar Rao to the event, is due to travel to Vijayawada to invite Jagan to the inaugural. The question that is being asked over social media is whether Jagan will make an appearance at Kaleshwaram, eating his own words. 

Naidu was ridiculed as `U-turn Babu’ by the YSRCP during the election campaign over his flip-flop over the Special Category status issue. If Jagan accepts KCR’s invite, he will be at the receiving end of a similar `U-turn Jagan’ barb from his critics. 

If Kaleshwaram is the mega irrigation project in Telangana, Polavaram is the biggie in Andhra. While Kaleshwaram has roared ahead, the latter despite being declared as a national project, has got stuck in controversies with Jagan hinting at reverse tenders and a probe into alleged irregularities in the awarding of contracts. 

So far, good relations between KCR and Jagan have translated to the two states trying to resolve pending issues harmoniously. This has meant the Andhra government handing over its vacant blocks in the State Secretariat in Hyderabad to Telangana. In return, KCR fast-tracked the transfer of Telangana cadre senior IPS officer Stephen Ravindra to Andhra for posting as the state intelligence chief. 

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