This morning I set out from Kuravapalli in Chittoor and a short while later, I met an old woman, Nirmala. She and her husband work as daily wage labourers in the local tomato market. They have a daughter who is pursuing her undergraduate course and is sadly, suffering from a serious liver condition. Nirmala lamented that they had already spent a staggering four lakh rupees on the treatment of the child in Vellore, Tirupati and Chennai.
There are thousands of families who continue to suffer on account of rising healthcare costs and are being sucked into the vortex of debts. Whatever happened to Arogyasri? I feel that no family or individual should have to be burdened by debt and loans on account of health conditions and ailments. That is the reason I feel Arogyasri should be a rainbow healthcare scheme which should be expanded and strengthened on a massive scale. In fact that was the underlying purpose and objective of the scheme.
The lives of the poor should not seem worthless to the government and the authorities. That is exactly why I am of the conviction that Arogyasri’s scope should be widened to cover all ailments which cost more than Rs.1000 and I am determined to act on this belief of mine. Around 10.30 in the morning, thousands of people came forward to welcome me cordially into the Punganuru constituency into which I set foot. Wherever I went people listened with great interest and enthusiasm when I elaborated on the YSRCP’s Navaratnalu.
After a brief lunch-break, party workers came in hordes from Kuppam to Pedduru to extend a warm welcome to me and walked alongside me with a lot of fervour and enthusiasm. They told me about the problems of the constituency at great length. The plight of Kuppam, the chief minister’s constituency is indeed pathetic, to say the least. Every single day, out of sheer compulsion to earn a livelihood, thousands of people travel to Bangalore in two trains. To think that this is the deplorable state of affairs in Chandrababu Naidu’s constituency—a man who had been in power for nine years earlier and four years now. This question continues to nag any discerning observer—is this how the constituency of the chief minister who had been in power for so many years ought to be? Chandrababu Naidu chose to contest from Kuppam instead of his own Chandra Giri constituency. He knows better than anybody else that this constituency has the highest demographic profile of backward class communities and is among the most backward parts of the region. Taking advantage of the gullibility of the locals, Chandrababu has been lording over them for many years and fooling them. He has been making fraudulent promises and giving them false assurances all these years. Instead of allotting the constituency to a BC candidate who knows the ground realities of the place and is familiar with the many problems that beset the region, he acts as their representative doing precious little to improve their condition. The area lacks basic amenities including drinking water supply, as also water for agriculture and irrigation. Industrially, it remains a very backward area.
Of the 406 schools here, there are 338 vacancies of teachers and this alone is a reflection of the government’s focus on school education and the importance it attaches to the education of future generations. Why is it that Chandrababu Naidu has done nothing to ensure its development? If this backward region is transformed through development, people will raise their voice and question their representative, which is why Chandrababu Naidu has ensured that Kuppam remains backward and neglected. How heartless should you be to neglect the development of the region for your own selfish political ends?
Finally I have a question for the chief minister—you always make tall claims about Andhra Pradesh striding ahead of all the other states in many areas of development. How come your own constituency is a picture of backwardness and under-development? How can you account for the migration of thousands of people of your own constituency in search of livelihood? Do you have a valid answer to this soul-searching question?