YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has completed one month of his Praja Sankalpa Yatra. He has so far walked 400 km and met various sections of society--men, women, students and the unemployed. People are rooting for YS Jagan in an unprecedented way. He gave a special interview to senior journalist Kommineni Srinivasa Rao to mark the completion of one month of the Praja Sankalpa Yatra. Here are the excerpts:
Your Praja Sankalpa Yatra has completed one month. What is your perception of the yatra?
A Padayatra is truly a different kind of experience. It is not that I am unaware of people's problems. I undertook Odarpu Yatra to understand the people's problems. It was also to honour a promise I had made to the poor. I went to the poor man's hut and met everyone. Padayatra is the next step. This is more intense. Since the route and the place of stay are already known, people can meet me. Every group and every community is coming forward to meet me. For instance, the teachers of state government's prestigious model schools are not being paid their salaries for the last six months. This is only one example. There are many such cases. It the the people, who are driving the yatra. Without their support, this yatra would not have been possible. Their affection and love are motivating me. Hence, there is no fatigue.
What did you notice during the month long exercise?
An estimated 62 per cent of the population depends on agriculture. The farmers are not getting remunerative price for their produce. Take for instance, tomato. It is procured from farmers at Rs 2 a kg and is sold at Rs 40. What is worrisome is that Chandrababu Naidu himself has become a middleman as he has his own outlet selling vegetables. The people are very much aware of this and have themselves been telling me this.
How are people taking this? Do they see this as a failure of the Government or are they cursing their fate?
Both. But, what else can they do? The government is not providing them with remunerative prices. There is no water. The projects are incomplete. The area under agriculture has also come down considerably.
How are women reacting to the Chandrababu Naidu regime?
If Chandrababu Naidu has duped anyone the most, it is women. They took him at his word when he said that they would get back the gold they mortgaged in the banks. But their hopes have been belied. They have been betrayed. During YSR’s time, the banks had advanced loans at zero interest and at 25 paise interest. The Government used to pay the interest. Today Chandrababu Naidu is not paying the interest and the banks are no longer advancing loans. The women themselves are narrating these tales of woe to me.
Why is credibility so important for you?
Credibility is very important. It is the cornerstone of a relationship with people that you develop in public life. People should feel we are credible. One should not peddle untruths. One should not deceive the people. The people of the state believe that Chandrababu has duped them.
There is a comment that you are giving assurances that can never be fulfilled. What do you have to say on that?
None of these assurances are new. I had given these assurances during the party Plenary. We are reiterating the same promises now. There was no criticism then. Why are they criticising us now. It is only because of the stupendous response we are getting from the people. They are unnerved and hence, this criticism.
There were also reports that there were blisters on your feet. Some say you wear special kind of shoes...
Blisters are normal when one undertakes such yatras. I am getting used to these things. I am psychologically prepared to undertake the yatra. These things are just minor difficulties in and I am doing what I should do to overcome them. My shoes are not special. They are normal shoes available in the market, perhaps costlier versions. Chandrababu undertook the yatra only during the night. It was more about covering the distances than meeting people. My late father did his padayatra during the day time. My yatra too takes place during the day when the people are around. The purpose, after all, is to interact with people.