Andhra Pradesh Chef Minister Chandrababu Naidu fired a guided Chinese missile at opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy. In a calculated move, on the first day of his five-day tour in China yesterday late evening, Naidu on managed a commitment from dragon country’s steel major Ansteel to set up a plant in Kadapa district.

 

The Ansteel deal was the only concrete investment proposal Naidu secured from China, even though he had participated as many as eight business meetings on day one with the Chinese and others.

 

Kadapa district is opposition leader Jaganmohan Reddy’s backyard. Ansteel, in the first phase is expected to invest ₹3000 crore on the plant.  The chief minister invited the company’s delegation to visit the village called Muddanur, where lands were set aside for the steel plant way back in 2006.

 

The then chief minister, YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s (the junior Reddy’s father) government earmarked about  20,000 acres for a plant then planned by Brahmani Steels  of Karnataka’s Gali Janardhan Reddy brothers. The foundation for the proposed plant was also laid.

 

But following the death of chief minister Reddy in 2009, and subsequent charges of a quid pro quo relationship against his son Jaganmohan Reddy with Gali, the steel plant plans were shelved. Janardhan Reddy and his brothers were subsequently arrested on charges of illegal mining of iron ore in Karnataka and AP. Later, the lands were taken back by the AP government.

 

The Kadapa district is not only a chronic backward area but is also  plagued by Reddy warlords. The people of the district expected Naidu to revive the plant after 2014, as the Telangana Act also made a commitment to revive the plant as it was located in the backward region.

 

However, the Reddy’s family’s grip on the area and the lack of TDP’s presence in there discouraged Naidu to pursue proposals. In the meantime, two important developments happened; first, the local YSRC MLA joined TDP and second, an independent movement for the steel plant was launched by a young engineering graduate, G Praveen Kumar Reddy, which is now rocking the district for the past six months.

 

This may have indicated to Naidu that the time was ripe to strike a deal with Ansteel, to win over the Kadapa district, which rejected TDP in 2014 while it swept the polls elsewhere. It looks like a spur-of-the-moment decision by Naidu after visiting China, because this subject has never figured either in his earlier tour to China or his officials’ business visits.

The reason may have been that Naidu was not sure that the steel plan would help him in areas where Jagan is the uncrowned king. But, now things have changed in favour of Naidu’s TDP.

 

Wasting no more time, right after Naidu met the officials of Ansteel, his spin doctors unleashed a publicity blitz about the deal which clearly revealed the political side of the achievement.  According to the CM’s office, Ansteal will explore the possibility of a partnership either with the state or a private partner.

 

Political Ramifications

The steel plant, when planned in 2006, had stimulated the local economy of the area. Land prices, house rents, went up. People expected that the plant would bring jobs and migrant workers, which in turn, would create a demand for local agricultural produce.

 

But the Gali brothers’ alleged illegal mining and political links dashed the hopes of the people who don't have a decent hospital, road or a school in the district. Warlord-Reddy’s grip also deterred the setting up of industries. Naidu, who is on a mission to demolish Reddy domination in the areas, first wooed them into TDP.

 

Next on his agenda is the winning over of the poverty-stricken people with a steel plant. With the contracts generated by the construction of the proposed steel plant, Naidu can now force the remaining Reddys to join the TDP to render Jagan without followers in the area.