Tulupooru Cross roads, Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district: On my yatra today, I met a 90 year-old woman whose pathetic condition left me numb with sadness. This nonagenarian from the Siddalaiahkona ST Colony, her frail body bent over, completely devoid of any strength, was a picture of indescribable penury and helplessness. She approached me with the help and support of two others and narrated her tale of woe to me. Decades ago, her husband passed away and her son abandoned her to fend for herself. She lived on the edge of the village in a small, thatched hut, which barely afforded her any shelter. Her house got flooded at the slightest hint of a shower—it was exposed to the elements, be it rain or sunshine. As for survival, she depended solely on what the villagers gave her taking pity on her state.
I was deeply disturbed when I heard her say, “Anna, I want to die.” Looking at her, listening to her tale of everyday suffering, I wondered as to what more eligibility does one need for government help? Can’t the TDP government take pity on such deserving cases and support them? How can it remain indifferent to their plight?
Similarly, the case of Sumathi was equally heart-rending. She was physically and mentally challenged to the extent of 90%, and yet tried to eke out a living by working as a daily wage labourer. Her life was an unending saga of sorrow—her husband was an alcoholic and survival became a huge challenge for her. She had no strength left she told me, as she sobbed. She pleaded with government officials to grant her some kind of pension, but in vain. The authorities paid no heed to her pleas and complaints. Can’t the Janmabhoomi committees appointed by Chandrababu Naidu see the suffering of women like Sumathi? What solutions can the government offer to her problems, what responses does it have to her questions. Can it offer any assurance of support?
Near the village Kalichedu, some students came to me and said, “Sir, we hear that our school is going to be shut down. We come from a very impoverished background and cannot afford to go elsewhere and study. Sir, we want our school to continue.” These were the words of students from Mica workers’ welfare school who were weeping as they narrated their fears to me. The workers and residents said that the local hospital had also been shut down and that though local mining generated crores worth revenue in the form of royalties and cess, the government was not in the least bothered about the the welfare of the mining workers or the education of their children.
Venkatagiri has been a centre of handlooms for ages now. With their skill and labour, workers from here have made this place famous across the world. However, the lives of the handloom workers here are in a miserable state and filled with problems of day-to-day living. Many of them fall prey to diseases at a very young age, many others commit suicide and others still lead a life of dire poverty.
I had an informal interaction with many of them at a large get-together in Kalichedu where the families of these weavers poured out their troubles to me. I was deeply saddened by what I heard. Before elections, Chandrababu Naidu had given them a spate of assurances none of which was fulfilled. It was only after I highlighted their problems that the government began to respond and showed a faint inclination to do something, be it in the form of compensation or subsidy. The local weavers said to me, “Anna for three years this government did not bother to pay attention to our condition. Now, after you raised your voice about our plight, the government machinery we hope, may start moving.” When I heard them say this, I became even more aware of the injustices being wrought by the Chandrababu Naidu led TDP government on the poor handloom workers and weavers.
In conclusion, I have a question for the chief minister—your manifesto says that the TDP government would provide a fund of 1000 crores, health insurance, interest-free loans, houses, sheds, loan waivers among other things. Your manifesto from pages 21 to 25 is filled with these assurances. Do you remember any of them? Have you fulfilled at least one of them? If you do not honour your commitments on subsidies, insurance schemes and other promises, doesn’t it amount to deception?