The government of K Chandrashekar Rao of Telangana made another U-turn with its decision to reconcile the Aarogyasri public health program with Aayushman Bharat.
Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar informed the Prime Minister during a video conference with all senior state officials that the Chief Minister of Telangana had made a decision to this effect.
Telangana was one of five states that refused to implement the central government’s flagship health program when it launched in September 2018.
The state, along with Odisha, Delhi, Kerala and the Punjab, has claimed that its own health system is better and will not implement the central program until its concerns are resolved.
Aarogyasri, Telangana said, covers 70% of the state’s population while Ayushman Bharat will only benefit 80 lakh.
There was speculation, however, that at the time, just before the state elections, Mr. Rao’s government was unwilling to allow the central regime, believing the BJP to be an advantage.
However, his current decision to conciliate with Aarogyasri was the second time in the same month that the chief minister has overturned a decision. His party had backed the Pan-Indian group on December 8 against agricultural laws, and its ministers even participated in protests blocking highways. But he apparently didn’t hesitate.
The chief minister announced that purchases in the villages would be halted from this season. Agriculture Minister Niranjan Reddy said agricultural laws should have a chance to play out for at least a few seasons to see its impact.
Mr Rao had visited Delhi earlier this month when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Secretary Amit Shah, sparking speculation about his party’s proximity to the BJP. Mr. Rao has always maintained that his party was not aligned and, before the general election last year, tried to form a third front.
Former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir criticized the state government for the move.
“CM KCR first embraced the drama of opposition to the BJP government’s new agricultural laws and even supported the call for closure by peasant organizations. He then turned around and announced his support for the contentious farm laws. KCR also took a U- turn on Ayushman Bharat Yojana’s implementation in Telangana which it had opposed earlier on the pretext that Aarogyasri was more comprehensive and better. Therefore, instead of playing rivalry dramas to deceive people, KCR should officially merge TRS with BJP, I told me.
Before the municipal elections, the KCR had said in the second week of December that it would relaunch efforts for a third front and even hold a leaders’ meeting, but after the local body elections, in which the BJP made gains major, the Chief Minister has not made any effort in this direction.