BRS undertakes Medigadda visit to turn tables on ‘anti-farmer’ Congress

The BRS is looking to show that the Congress is more interested in the political gains the irrigation water it can provide.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Mar 02, 2024 | 7:00 AMUpdatedMar 02, 2024 | 7:00 AM

BRS working president KT Rama Rao during the party leaders' visit to Medigadda on Friday, 1 March, 2024.

Bent on turning the tables against the Congress government, which has been bearing down on it on the Medigadda barrage disaster, the Opposition BRS on Friday, 1 March, tried to capture eyeballs by undertaking a visit to the Medigadda and Annaram barrages of the multi-stage Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS).

The BRS team, led by its working president KT Rama Rao and former irrigation minister T Harish Rao, went around the two barrages and declared that the Congress government was trying to make a molehill out of a mountain, with an eye on raking off political benefit.

The pink party’s team left for Medigadda in the Bhupalpalle district at daybreak on Friday.

On reaching there, the leaders went around the barrage, taking a close look at the three piers that had sunk on 21 October last year and the fractures that this had caused to the barrage.

Related: CAG report on Kaleshwaram project in Telangana raises red flag

The backdrop

With Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the BRS is very keen to retrieve the ground it conceded to the Congress in last year’s Assembly elections.

Such an achievement could prove to the public that the regional outfit with national ambitions was much more than a match for the grand old party.

The BRS has been trying to “expose” the Congress’ gameplan of turning public perception by showing the “shoddy” execution of the Medigadda barrage and the leaks detected in Annaram as a major disaster that occurred to the previous Telangana government’s flagship project.

From Day 1 of coming to power, the Congress has been trying to expose the “corruption” and the “inefficiency” of the BRS in the construction of several irrigation projects in general and the KLIS in particular.

Recently, the state government came out with a white paper on the irrigation sector, in which it pointed out what it said were flaws and short-sightedness in the implementation of the KLIS.

The white paper also sought to show how the project had apparently turned into a white elephant, causing a haemorrhaging of public funds without ensuring the accrual of any benefit to farmers.

Though the BRS — mainly former minister T Harish Rao — has so far put up a spirited defence against the Congress government’s onslaught, the pink party now appears intent on taking the battle into the enemy camp.

Reality of Medigadda barrage: Deviations from construction plan resulted in damage

The BRS’ plan

While trying to establish that it was a minor, one-off setback to one barrage in the mammoth irrigation project, the BRS is also trying to paint a picture that the Congress government is anti-farmer in nature.

Several BRS leaders who visited Medigadda and Annaram on Friday said that the Congress’ ulterior motive was to deny water to the farming community by taking it out on the BRS, which happens to be its political rival.

The party leaders are also accusing the Congress of conspiring to make the entire Kaleswharam project dysfunctional so that it could depict the BRS as the culprit ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and even after that.

Asked KT Rama Rao: “What is preventing the Congress government from undertaking the repairs to the Medigadda barrage? Let the government conduct an inquiry and take action against those responsible for the sinking of the piers of the barrage. But the government should provide water for irrigation purposes to farmers.”

KTR thus tried to subtly point out that the Congress government was trying to hurt the interests of farmers in its efforts to fulfil a grudge against the BRS.

He said the crops in the Karimnagar district were already facing a shortage of water, and that this problem might spread to other districts served by the KLIS.

He called for the constitution of a committee that could suggest ways to ensure that farmers would not experience any inconvenience any more.

Former irrigation and finance minister T Harish Rao, after reaching the Annaram barrage, said the BRS leader visited the two barrages to expose the Congress’ conspiracy to depict the KLIS as a white elephant.

“We have come here to explain to the people what the KLIS is, its extent, and how it benefits farmers. The people should know the truth,” he said, adding that the Congress had become jittery over the BRS leaders’ visit to the project.

He said it was the BRS’ first victory, as it had forced Irrigation Minister N Uttam Kumar Reddy into announcing earlier in the day that they would conduct repairs to the barrage.

“Uttam Kumar Reddy said that works would begin pending the receipt of the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) report. The minister made the announcement after we undertook the visit to Medigadda,” he said.

Winding up the visit to the project, KTR said this was only the beginning of the BRS’ exercise in exposing the Congress’ politics of vile and deceit.

“We will undertake visits to all the other components of the KLIS to unveil the project’s extent and scope in benefiting the farming community,” he said.