To put it bluntly, the decision of the Andhra Pradesh government to appeal to the Supreme court against the High court order in the case of painting of government offices in YSRCP colours, was stupid. It was akin to bringing more shame onto itself and conveyed an arrogance, completely unnecessary.
Soon after Jaganmohan Reddy came to power in May 2019, the Panchayat Raj ministry of the Andhra Pradesh government ordered that all its 11000-odd offices in 13 districts will get a fresh coat of paint. The problem was that the new colours were the three colours of the ruling party.
The idea was to blur the lines between the party and the government and give the YSRCP the advantage of optics. With the welfare agenda of the government, the average citizen would obviously connect it immediately to the party and that would be an electoral plus.
The High court struck down the move. The government, in no mood to back off, added a fourth colour – a generic earth colour – to some buildings to make it seem that the colour scheme now was no longer exclusively that of the YSRCP. But the court saw through the charade and asked the government to repaint. The apex court has now upheld the High court verdict.
The question is whether the YSRCP that came to power with an overwhelming majority of 151/175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, needed this paint job. Does Jagan really need such help to win again in 2024? On the contrary, the legal sting has made him look bad – as a politician who spends public money to further the cause of his political outfit.
The whataboutery does not help. The Telugu Desam too was guilty of painting most new buildings like Anna canteens in their party colour, yellow. But if Jagan promised a new culture of politics, he needs to walk the talk, not copy what the TDP did.
In any case, all schemes of the government are named after either YSR or Jagan himself, ensuring a strong connect with the party. YSR and Jagan’s photographs adorn just about every welfare scheme of the government. Jagan needs to convey that to his party in black and white.
Meanwhile, the government will now need to repaint the offices within a month, burdening the exchequer once again.