The K Chandrashekar Rao government of Telangana has made another U-turn with its decision to dovetail the state health scheme Aarogyasri to Aayushman Bharat.
Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar informed the Prime Minister during a video conference with all top state bureaucrats that Telangana chief minister has taken a decision to that effect.
Telangana was one of the five states that had refused to implement the Central government’s flagship health scheme when it was launched in September 2018.
The state, along with Odisha, Delhi, Kerala and Punjab, claimed that its own health scheme was better and it would not implement the Central programme till its concerns were addressed.
Aarogyasri, Telangana had said, covers 70 per cent of the state’s population while the Ayushman Bharat will only benefit 80 lakh people.
There, however, was speculation that at the time, just ahead of the state election, Mr Rao’s government was not willing to allow the Central Scheme, believing that it would the BJP an edge.
His current decision to dovetail Aarogyasri, however, was the second time in the same month that the Chief Minister reversed a decision. His party had supported the all-India bandh on December 8 against the farm laws and his ministers even sat on protests blocking highways. But he has not apparently had second thoughts.
The chief minister has announced that procurement at the villages would be stopped from this season. Agriculture minister Niranjan Reddy has said the farm laws should be given a chance to play out at least for a couple of seasons to know its impact.
Mr Rao had visited Delhi earlier this month when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, triggering speculation about his party’s closeness to the BJP. Mr Rao has always maintained that his party is non-aligned and ahead of last year’s general election, tried to form a Third Front.
Former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir has slammed the state government for the decision.
“CM KCR first enacted the drama of opposing new farm laws of BJP government and even supported the shutdown call given by the farmers’ organisations. He then took a U-turn and announced support for the contentious agricultural laws. KCR also took a U-turn on the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Yojana in Telangana which he had opposed earlier on the pretext that Aarogyasri was more comprehensive and better. Therefore, instead of enacting the dramas of rivalry to cheat people, KCR should officially merge TRS with the BJP,” he said.
Before the municipal elections, KCR had said in the second week of December he would revive efforts for a Third Front and even host a meeting of leaders but post the local body elections, in which the BJP made major gains, the chief minister has not made any effort in that direction.