All does not seem to be well between YS Jaganmohan Reddy and K Chandrasekhar Rao. Five months after the Andhra Pradesh chief minister attended the inauguration of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project on river Godavari in Telangana, his state has told the Supreme court to direct the Centre not to grant it the status of a National project.
In its affidavit, the Andhra Pradesh government has argued that the Telangana government had violated the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal Award and AP Reorganisation Act in taking up projects for utilizing 450 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of Godavari waters.
Andhra’s contention is that the Telangana government has taken up Kaleshwaram project (in place of the original Pranahita-Chevella project) to utilize 225 tmc of Godavari waters. It argues that this is a new project that completely changes the nature and design of the original project. Interestingly, the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy was involved with the Pranahita-Chevella project and had laid its foundation stone in 2008.
The Jagan government has argued that the Rs 80000 crore Kaleshwaram project was inimical to the interests of the farmers of Andhra Pradesh downstream of Godavari river. It has also opposed the interlocutory petition of Telangana in the Supreme Court challenging the construction of the Polavaram project on the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. It argued that as per the AP Reorganization Act, Polavaram is a national project and Telangana is deemed to have given its consent for the project.
What this suggests is that fissures have emerged in the relationship between the two CMs and that the bonhomie – which saw KCR attending Jagan’s swearing-in ceremony and the luncheon meetings in Hyderabad and Tadepalli – is a thing of the past. The two Telugu states got an inkling of it when Jagan appeared to be going ahead with his own plans instead of collaborating with KCR to link Krishna and Godavari rivers to mitigate water scarcity in both states.
The Andhra decision on merger of RTC eployees into the government also seems to have contributed to the rift as the same demand has created a headache for the Telangana government, with the bus transport employees on strike since 5 October.
There is a political angle to it as well. In the run-up to the elections, KCR made efforts to cobble together a Federal front and appeared to lead a group of regional leaders that included Jagan, MK Stalin of the DMK, Pinarayi Vijayan from Kerala and Naveen Patnaik from Odisha. The TRS also believes that the BJP’s ambition to grow politically in Andhra Pradesh pits it as his main foe in Telangana and has adoped a confrontationist position vis-a-vis the party.
The BJP has not taken too kindly to the KCR-Jagan forming a group. The YSRCP chief realises that he cannot antagonise the Centre for more reasons than one. Financially, Andhra Pradesh needs liberal help from the Centre while Telangana is in a better position thanks to the revenue Hyderabad generates.