In a move that has few parallels, Andhra Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee to look into every policy, decision, project, programme, and institution established since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh state on June 2, 2014. Essentially, this Sub-Committee which will consist of five top ministers, will review every decision made by the Chandrababu Naidu government in the last five years.
Setting the Terms of Reference for the Sub-Committee, the government order issued on June 26 says that ‘governance during the past five years was characterised by unbridled corruption and ruthless exploitation of natural resources’ that pushed the state ‘into the dark ages’. The order says that the last regime caused large scale displacement of poor families, needless environmental destruction, privatisation of public institutions, politicisation of the government machinery, and serious mismanagement of the financial system.
The Sub-Committee has been tasked with identifying the person or institution responsible for malafide decisions and actions. The government will take action based on these reports.
The government order has thirteen Terms of Reference and gives the Sub-Committee powers to investigate any person who has been in a position of authority including ministers, bureaucrats and others.
The Cabinet Sub-Committee will review major policy decisions and programs, the genesis of why they were conceived, and how they contributed to wastage and misuse of scarce and valuable public resources.
It will also review procurement systems, tender procedures, allocation of public resources, Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), Letters of Intent, Joint Ventures and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). The Sub-Committee will also look into contracts and Terms of References with major consultancies that the government has engaged with in the past five years.
With land deals in capital region Amaravati already under the scanner, the Cabinet Sub-Committee will also review major land parcels of the government.
The Sub-Committee will name those they believe caused loss to the public exchequer and were beneficiaries of pecuniary gain. Making the ambit of the Sub-Committee broad, they have also been tasked with identifying instances of corruption, nepotism, misuse of authority, and misappropriation of public resources.
Major mining leases granted during the period, all investments in power sector and infrastructure projects and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) will also be reviewed. Major public-private partnership (PPP) projects awarded by different departments, especially Health, Education, Nutrition programs will also be re-evaluated.
Naidu’s son and heir apparent Nara Lokesh was the Information Technology minister of Andhra Pradesh and the Cabinet Sub-Committee has been tasked with reviewing all projects launched by the department.
Major projects including the Polavaram irrigation project, Capital Regional Development Authority (CRDA) activities and work on ports, airports, highway projects, etc will also be re-examined.
In what clearly lays the path ahead for prosecuting politicians and bureaucrats, the Cabinet Sub-Committee has also been asked to review the role of important political leaders and key officials in designing and implementing policies, projects, or programmes that have had a harmful impact on the people of the state.
In 1996, the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi had set up a similar committee under former bureaucrat SA Subramani. The committee prepared papers for prosecuting J Jayalalithaa and several cases were filed against her and confidantes later.
Jagan’s Cabinet Sub-Committee comprises Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, Minister of Panchayat Raj Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperation Kurasala Kanna Babu, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources P Anil Kumar and Minister of Commerce and Information Technology M Gautam Reddy. Manmohan Singh IAS, Special Chief Secretary to the government will also be part of the sub-committee.