I spent Monday celebrating Sankranthi at my camp office amidst people who showered their affection upon me. Offering new clothes I sought their blessings and on the day of Kanuma festival, I stepped into Nagari from Chandragiri constituency.
The workers of Shri Venkateshwara Co-operative Sugar factory poured out their troubles to me and said that the strategy adopted by Chandrababu Naidu was akin to branding a healthy dog sick and killing it. They lamented that workers have not been paid their wages for two years and that farmers had to go to court seeking payment of their rightful dues. Before the cooperative sugar factories were shut down, farmers would always get more than the minimum support price. In stark contrast, private factories are now looting the farmers.
The government ought to treat cooperative units as its very own. But here it appears as if the father has become vengeful towards his child! What kind of justice is this? The cooperative movement in India has a long and hoary history. Great individuals and sons of the nation such as Acharya Vinoba Bhave were associated with it and strengthened it, widening its reach. The rulers of today in contrast, are only earning the wrath and curses of the poor workers and farmers.
Varalakshmi of Nagari met me after I took a short lunch break. She told me how government officials were resorting to looting women and lamented, “Who do we turn to for justice now?” Thousands of women earned their livelihood by stitching uniforms for schoolchildren, she said. These women are now deprived of this opportunity thanks to the overreaching greed of some APCO officials, who bribed higher-ups in the system and secured orders to supply uniforms to school children across the state. They have ended up supplying uniforms which don’t fit the school children because they didn’t use enough cloth! Claiming that they were supplying uniforms to students they are charging Rs.40 per set, where as they pay those who stitch the uniforms only Rs.20! If a scheme which supports thousands of women and helps them earn their livelihood is destroyed in this manner what are we to say? In Vada Mala I met Ravamma, who told me that for the past 19 years she has been conducting the midday meal scheme in a school, and that for the past six months they had not been paid their salaries. The government had not even reimbursed the money spent on feeding the children, she said. What kind of a government is this where not only the salary is not paid but bills for money spent on feeding the children are not settled? How will these women survive? How will the scheme continue to function? How will they feed these poor children? A cursory look at the midday meal scheme and the supply of uniforms to schools is enough to reveal the real face of the Chandrababu Naidu government towards school education.
Suseelamma, the Sarpanch of Taduku, came to me with a petition. It said that in 2006, 319 agricultural labourers drawn from SC, ST and BC communities were assigned 450 acres during my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s tenure and Pattadar passbooks were also issued. These poor farm workers had nothing else for their subsistence, but the little bit of land they were given. Their loans were also waived in 2008.
However, once the TDP came to power in 2014, loan waivers stopped and they did not so much as get cyclone relief or compensation after their crops were destroyed first in 2015 and then in the very next year, 2016. Their pleas to Government officials including the district collector and tehsildar, fell on deaf ears.
In conclusion, I have a question for the Chief Minister—do you have a scheme of your own under which you must necessarily get a share from every single welfare scheme or program? Won’t the system of governance become even more decadent if you, your party leaders and followers indulge in unbridled corruption?