Kalikiri: This morning when I set out from Kalikiri in Chittoor on my Padayatra, I met Gurrappa, a 72-year-old former watchman, who had worked for 35 years in the Chintaparthi school and had, out of his abiding interest, created a beautiful garden in the school. His services were appreciated and he had been felicitated as a model employee. As a pensioner after his retirement, he continued to work for the school to which he gave his life. This devotion in the septuagenarian was something exemplary.

However, what I found very disturbing was what he narrated to me next—“sir, for the past two months I have not been getting my pension and when I approached the Zilla Parishad authorities, they said that there were no funds available and that I would get my pension once they received funds. It is becoming very difficult for me and my family members to survive on a day to day basis,” he lamented. Chandrababu Naidu is absolutely heartless and insensitive when it comes to the pending salaries of low-level employees and pensions of retired ones. However when it comes to releasing the dues of his cronies and proxy contractors, no time is wasted and payments are made post-haste.

I also met Giri Babu who works in the Ayush division as a contract employee. He told me that he had been working since 2008 as a paramedical employee and that across the state since April 2015, the government had not paid their salaries to the paramedical staff. “In May 2017, the government told us that our services are no longer required. As a result we have nowhere to go,” he lamented. The strange thing about this is that on July 26, 2012, Chandrababu Naidu wrote a letter laced with anger, to the Chief Minister of the day, demanding that services of employees of Ayush division be regularised and that their salaries be paid. He also said that more funds should be allocated to dispensaries and that the wages of employees should be hiked. This letter serves as a prime example of his crocodile tears before the elections. We can see how the chameleon changed its colours once elections got over.

A short while later, I met a differently-abled person along the way. He came to me and said “Anna, I am Mallikarjun from Eguvakurapalli. I suffer from severe disability to the extent of 90%. I also have a certificate to this effect, but when I applied for a pension I was told that because my grandfather is a pensioner, I am not eligible for disability pension! How can I survive if this is the case?” I hardly need to reiterate the fact that it is very important for the government to come forward and take care of the differently-abled and not deny them their due citing technical reasons. The underlying idea is to ensure that they are self-reliant and are not dependent on their families. But what we see today is complete government apathy on this count. It is totally insensitive to the plight of the disabled. The same is true of farmers who told me about the troubles they face on an everyday basis. Though Chandrababu Naidu has neglected every single section of society from the time that he came to power, he brags about his contribution to various segments.

Finally, I have a question for the Chief Minister—you have been taking credit and trumpeting about your contribution with respect to projects where 80% of the work had already been completed! What about Adivipalli reservoir near Pileru In your own district on which 70% of the work had been completed during my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s time? How is it that you have not been able to complete the little bit of work that is left and divert water from the Krishna river through the Handri-Neeva canal to the parched lands of this region for the benefit of farmers? Have four long years proved to be inadequate for you to do this, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu?