The misfortune of the indian electorate which is ready to experiment with new leaders, is that the latter lose little time in exposing their feet of clay, especially if their sole claim and qualification for office is heredity. Take the case of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy whose YSR Congress party, promoted by him after the death of his father YSR Reddy in 2009, against all expectation, routed the Telugu Desam Party led by the nationally renowned Chandrababu Naidu in the recently concluded Andhra Pradesh state legislative assembly election, winning 148 of the 175 seats of the house. Naidu is a seasoned politician who has dominated the political scene in undivided Andhra Pradesh (bifurcated into Telangana and Andhra in 2014) since the early 1990s after the demise of his father-in-law N.T. Rama Rao who served the state as chief minister for three terms between 1983 and 1995.
Yet hardly three months in office, Jagan Mohan has hit media headlines for the wrong reason. One of his first initiatives is to legislate the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Bill, 2019 under which all manufacturing and service industries in the state will be obliged to ensure that at least 75 percent of their employees are from local communities ordinarily resident in the state. In short, the state government has decreed a sweeping sons-of-the-soil policy with which even private companies will be obliged to conform.
As any mofussil lawyer would have informed him, had the chief minister bothered to ask, this jobs reservation Bill is certain to be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. Under Article 14 of the Constitution, the State (Central, state and/or local governments) is prohibited from denying all citizens of India — indeed any person in India — equality before the law. Moreover, under Article 19 (1) (e) all citizens have the fundamental right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, except Jammu & Kashmir. Secondly, even in the unlikely event of the Bill surviving judicial scrutiny, it is certain to discourage capital investment which the newly promulgated state having lost the industrial hub of Hyderabad to Telangana, desperately needs. No businessman in his right mind will invest in a state where his right to appoint the best person for every job is circumscribed.
In this context, it is pertinent to assess the enormous damage that political dynasties have inflicted on Andhra Pradesh (and India but that’s another story). Unqualified film star N.T. Rama Rao was swept into office in 1983 because Rajiv Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty publicly insulted T.N. Anjaiah, then Congress chief minister of AP. NTR was succeeded by his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu whose ambition prompted the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. And now Jagan Mohan is all set to choke off investment into this state which hosts the country’s most capable and competent entrepreneurs and businessmen. It is the tragic misfortune of the country that unqualified heirs of political dynasties are being voted into apex positions of power in every state of the Indian Union.