Naidupeta, Sri Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore district: This morning, as I set out on my Padayatra, an 80 year-old woman, bent over with a stoop, walking with the help of a stick, approached me. She walked with great difficulty and when I asked her what she wanted, she replied, “I do not want anything, my son. I came only to see you and want to see you become the chief minister of the state. I want nothing more.” Blessing me, she said, “In you, I see your father. It was very touching to see this old woman come all the way and bless me, in spite of the difficulties and challenges she faced. It is this overwhelming affection which people shower on me that drives me on and inspires me to serve the masses and improve their condition in my own humble way.
After I crossed ChavaIi, I saw a number of brick kilns by the road. Workers women and children came rushing to see and greet me. The sight of the workers whose hair turned grey prematurely and whose clothes were torn for the most part, moved me. When I looked at the palms of the children I noticed that time had already wrought its damage on them and had callused them. The tender palms were rough beyond their years and the sight left me deeply disturbed. These children, their parents told me, were forced to work in furnaces—imagine this at an age when they should have been at school! It was very disturbing to see the lives of these children ruined in brick kilns where their childhood would wither away, instead of experiencing the joy of learning in a school.
When I told the mother of a child to educate her children, she replied that they could not afford to do so because their daily life was a struggle for survival. “We too want to educate our children and give them a good future.” I explained to her about the benefits of ‘Amma Badi’ scheme in Navarathnalu. I told her that it was aimed at families such as hers and that mothers like her would get Rs. 15,000 per year. I could see their faces light up with joy when they heard this.
Shortly before lunch break, members from an association representing the Brahmin community came to me and told me how they were deceived by Chandrababu Naidu. During my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s tenure, Rs. 2,500 was released to 13,000 temples, whereas under the TDP government the number of temples was sharply reduced to 3,000. At the time of elections, Chandrababu Naidu had promised to set up Brahmin corporation with Rs. 500 crores, but after coming to power, he starved the corporation of funds and humiliated the Chairman of the corporation for questioning the TDP government’s unjust policies, by getting him removed overnight. In the process, he made this corporation redundant and worthless, they lamented.
This is hardly surprising, familiar as all of us are with Chandrababu Naidu’s ways. The yawning gulf between his promises and their fulfilment, is an ever-widening one.
In conclusion, I have a question for the Chief Minister—promising the moon to all castes and communities and then turning your back on your commitments and then threatening those who question you has become a pattern of your governance model. Is it integral to your style of functioning?