Kadiri, Anantapur District:
My yatra began on Sunday (December 23) with the people of Puttaparthi constituency giving me a warm send-off, while those in Kadiri giving me a full-throated and equally cordial welcome.
Moments after I began my yatra, a couple - Kothakota Ramakrishna and Ramadevi of Donnikota village in Nallamada mandal - met me. They eke out their livelihood by working as dailywagers. They showed me a photograph of theirs with my late father YS Rajasekhara Reddy. They have a child named Jayanth Kumar. When he was barely two, Jayanth had an eye problem and the vision in one eye was lost. They lost all hopes of reviving his eye sight as the treatment was prohibitively costly.
When YSR visited Kadiri, they met him and explained their plight. YSR told them that he would ensure that their boy will get the best of treatment and brought laughter back into their lives. He then instructed the collector of the day, Anuradha to take them to Dr Akbar in Anantapur. Anuradha took them in her car to Dr Akbar, who treated their son and discharged them only after the boy was fully fit. The couple's joy knew no bounds. What more, YSR had also sanctioned money through CM's relief fund so that they could pay off all their debts. He also sanctioned them a home under Indiramma scheme. "YSR is God for us. How can we ever forget him and his family?" Ramakrishna said. It was an emotional moment for me. My father had helped countless people this way and that tells us why people still idolise him. Ramakrishna told me that he belonged to the Pala Ekiri caste which was included in the BC list during YSR's time.
As I moved forward, I met octogenarian Ramakka of Bapanapalli in Kadiri mandal. She is suffering from severe arthritis and walking even a couple of paces is an ordeal for her. Her husband had passed away long ago and she has been denied old age pension. I was deeply shaken by the plight of Ramakka. Then, 26-year-old Purushottam, who was born blind, met me. His father had passed away. Purushottam was denied pension because he is a YSRCP supporter. This discrimination is all pervading and there are instances in every village I visited so far.
Two women, both dailywagers from Kalyanadurg constituency, came to meet me. The pooled up money from their meagre savings and gave that amount to me."We are your ardent supporters and this is our small contribution to your cause,'' they said as they thrust the money in my hands. Tears welled up my eyes.
I then entered Kadiri town. The crowd was unprecedented. Their support was truly heart-warming. I addressed a massive public meeting before calling it a day.
Finally, here is my question to the Chief Minister!! You may buy a handful of MLAs using your ill-gotten money. But, can you ever win some space in the hearts of the people? Can you ever hope to win their hearts through your corrupt practices?