The Telegu Desam Party’s (TDP) anger at chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh, L V Subrahmanyam who was appointed by the Election Commission on April 5, boiled over on Wednesday after the top bureaucrat reviewed the functioning of the finance department and questioned the release of funds for three welfare schemes.

The TDP had already been furious after Subrahmanyam held a series of official meetings in the last few days to review the decisions taken by the Chandrababu Naidu government after the April 11 assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.

On Wednesday, the TDP took strong exception to the chief secretary reviewing the functioning of the finance department and questioning the release of funds for three welfare schemes – Pasupu Kumkuma (payment of Rs 10,000 each to 97 lakh self-group women), Anna Daata Sukhibhava (payment of crop investment assistance of Rs 4,000 per acre to each farmer) and enhanced old age pensions.

“The allocations were made in the 2019-20 annual budget which was approved by the state assembly. They were cleared by the state cabinet and distribution of cheques began much before the model code of conduct came into force. Even the Election Commission gave green signal for the implementation of the schemes and the courts struck down the petitions of the YSR Congress party leaders questioning their implementation,” state finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.

Also read: ‘I may be arrested in a day or two’: Chandrababu Naidu after poll body replaces Andhra chief secretary

“So, where is the need for the chief secretary to review these schemes and say there were no funds to continue payments to the beneficiaries?” he asked.

The finance minister expressed surprise over the reports that the chief secretary had pulled up the finance department officials for allegedly diverting central funds to welfare schemes. “What we got from the Centre was the state share of central goods and services tax (CGST). They are part of the devolution of central tax receipts to the states and once the states receive the tax share, they become state funds and the government has every right to spent the same on the state schemes,” he explained.

Ramakrishnudu also questioned Subrahmanyam’s authority of to hold a video conference with all collectors and superintendents of police on Wednesday to review the arrangements for counting of votes on May 23, including provision of security to strong rooms where EVMs were kept. Chief Electoral Officer Gopala Krishna Dwivedi, Director General of Police R P Thakur and Home Secretary Anuradha attended the meeting.

“The meeting should have been conducted by the CEO, a representative of the Election Commission, not the chief secretary. Till the election process is completed, the CEO will have powers over the collectors and SPs and not the CS,” he said.

The confrontation between the TDP and Subrahmanyam has been going on ever since the latter was appointed by the Election Commission of India as the chief secretary on April 5. He replaced Anil Kumar Punetha, who was shifted for allegedly defying the EC’s orders.

This angered Naidu, who questioned the EC how it could appoint Subrahmanyam, a co-accused in the alleged disproportionate case of YSR Congress party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. He also accused the new chief secretary of being a covert supporter of the YSRC. His allegations against chief secretary draw the ire of retired bureaucrats who lodged a complaint with the Governor.

Also read: ‘People looking for a change’: Jagan Mohan after casting vote in Andhra Pradesh

Following the elections in Andhra Pradesh, Subrahmanyam started reviewing the decisions taken by the Naidu government after the poll code came into force. While he stopped reporting to the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues, he also raised objection to Naidu holding review meetings on the progress of Polavaram irrigation project and Amaravati capital, forcing the EC to serve notice on the chief minister.

Senior YSRC leader and spokesman Botsa Satyanarayana defended the action of the chief secretary in reviewing the Naidu government’s decisions. “Naidu has ruined the state finances by diverting funds as per his whims and fancies. The present chief secretary is only taking corrective action,” he said.

Satyanaryana said that there would be a change of government in the state in less than a month and therefore, it was important that the officials should work according to the rules.

The chief secretary has not spoken to the media and could not be reached for his comments.

First Published:
Apr 24, 2019 17:16 IST

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