He was rated amongst the most powerful and efficient Chief Ministers in the country. The State he ruled — Andhra Pradesh, was in the top few States in terms of development according to the RBI.
In short, the tenure of Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (five years and 110 days) as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, saw the State declaring GSDP growth of nearly 10 per cent for 2004-2008, which were higher than the national GDP growth of 7 plus.
Faced by tough economic conditions and general economic slowdown, the year 2008-2009 was witness to reversal of this trend with State GDP slipping to 5.53 per cent.
The State also has to its credit of conforming to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act and has managed to keep it below the statutory norms. However, in view of needs for higher capita expenditure, the State wanted greater flexibility in the FRBM act to borrow more.
There was buoyancy in agriculture, information technology (IT) and IT enabled services (ITES), pharma, retail, real estate and infrastructure. Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad in particular continued to be amongst the most happening places. It is to the credit of Dr YSR that he did not show the political animosity towards IT and ITES, which were the pet areas of his political rival and Telugu Desam Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, during his rein.
This ensured a healthy growth in IT exports, with global companies setting up facilities in Hyderabad. In fact, he tried taking IT to cities such as Visakhapatnam, Warangal, and Tirupati with some success.
Perhaps, the single biggest focus of Dr Reddy’s Government was on infrastructure development. To his credit, the best international airport in the country — Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad promoted by the GMR Group, was completed in record time and stands as an excellence example of private-public-partnership (PPP).
This infrastructure focus also gave a fillip to over a dozen companies from the State such as GVK, GMR, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Gayatri Projects, Madhucon, IVRCL, Soma, Ramky etc. to hit the national limelight and get involved in building infrastructure such as roads, ports and airports across the country. While the launch of the modern Gangavaram port, construction activity of the Outer Ring Road, initiation of work on several irrigation projects definitely stand testimony to Dr Reddy’s push to infrastructure. His efforts to attract foreign investment, big manufacturing units and implement power projects did not get the desired response.
The economic slowdown also impacted the high ambition of Dr Reddy’s Government in infrastructure and realty. A large number of real estate companies sprang up with projects, prices shot up, but fell drastically. The country’s biggest corporate fraud involving Satyam-Maytas happened during his tenure. But, his political and business acumen helped him to manage the crisis reasonably well.
Another controversy his Government got involved was in the Rs. 12,200-crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project. The project being awarded to the Maytas Infra consortium, which offered to pay back the Government instead of the Viability Gap Funding for such projects, raised eyebrows. When Maytas Infra started crumbling under the impact of the Satyam scam, he was pushed into fire-fighting to limit the damage and forced to scrap the deal.
It is Dr.Reddy’s vision Hyderabad has Metro now. Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate Hyderabad Metro in November.