‘I have to fight for funds for Capital, special status’

“We will have our capital on the Vijayawada-Guntur stretch that will be the world’s best planned city, fully loaded with ultra modern facilities. I have even plans for introducing a bullet train to Chennai and Hyderabad.”

That is “hi-tech” N. Chandrababu Naidu, sharing his vision for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, exclusively with The Hindu on the eve of his swearing-in as the first Chief Minister of a State which he insists “has to start from scratch.”

“Nothing is impossible if you have a clear vision of how you want your city to be. I have done it in Hyderabad and I will do it here. It will be much more than Singapore. It will be a hub of economic activities and a most favoured destination for investments, having the best connectivity. There will be no dearth of avenues for entertainment and social life,” he said.

Brimming with confidence, Mr. Naidu was unstoppable during a chat with this correspondent in his bullet- proof SUV as he travelled from Raj Bhavan to his home on Friday. “Having gained experience from the Hyderabad example, we will opt for dispersed development, transforming the upcoming capital region, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati into three mega cities and turn major corporations into hubs of investments giving a choice to investors. That is why I have invited top industrialists across the country for my swearing-in.”

His vision for the State is equally ambitious. “From agriculture to industrial and services, no sector will be left untouched. We will build on the strength of the hard-working, enterprising and entrepreneurial nature of the people. The new State will be an everlasting growth model for others,” he said, while promising to provide “a pro-poor, corruption-free, highly efficient and most modern government.”

Does it not look grandiose given the precarious financial situation of a State that starts with a deficit budget of Rs. 15,000 crore? “Where there is a will there is a way. When we are virtually starting from scratch, it is better to lay solid foundation and rely on long-lasting models of planning and development.”

He was bitter about the way the previous Congress government hurried through the bifurcation process.

On his election promise of crop loan waiver, involving over Rs. 50,000 crore, he said he was determined to implement it. “I have made the promise in the combined State of Andhra Pradesh moved by the plight of the farmers and there is no going back. I know it is not going to be easy. I will appoint a committee to study all aspects and work out modalities. I will explain to the people why I had to make such a promise and seek help from government of India.”

Does it not go against the economic reforms which he had so aggressively promoted? “I don’t think so. After all, reforms should take care of the vulnerable sections. If a farmer is debt-ridden, it is also because of government policies, and a responsive government will have to intervene and extend a helping hand to him.”

Mr. Naidu promised to have cordial relations with his Telangana counterpart, K. Chandrasekhara Rao.