Kanuru Cross, West Godavari District: Nidadavolu has been a centre of rich cultural heritage. It is also a place with great historical and political significance right from the time of the Chalukya dynasty. The great Rudramma Devi, who with her courage, brought glory to the Kakatiya dynasty, was a daughter-in-law of this great cradle of culture. It was through this ancient cultural, historical and political centre that my Padayatra proceeded today.

Students of intermediate came to me to express their feelings in poetic form. Their thoughts lent expression to the prevailing sentiment of the youth of the state. Their poems reflected the hope and confidence they had in me. “Once Jagan Anna comes, we will get jobs,” was the recurring theme in their verses. I thanked them for this display of affection and the faith they had in me and moved on.

Read: YS Jagan Padayatra: Grand Welcome Planned In East Godavari

Somasekhar, an NRI who settled in Australia, joined the Padayatra along with members of his family. It was heartening to know that they planned this vacation on learning about the Padayatra in their constituency. They wanted to be a part of it at the time of my interaction with the local people. They told me that they had tremendous love and affection for our family. Though they were in Dubai at that time, they had come to vote in the 2014 elections, they said. “Anna, we will come again. We wish to see you emerge victorious in the elections this time. You are the hero of the future generations,“ they remarked with a lot of hope and sincerity. I felt overwhelmed by their love and affection.

As I proceeded further, I was met by a septuagenarian who came forward to greet me with a cheerful face. He told me that he saw the same hope in me which he did in my father, the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. In 2005, he faced a serious problem when his wife was afflicted with cancer and he appealed to my father for assistance. My father reached out to him generously to help them tide over the grave crisis, by giving him the required amount from the Chief Minister‘s Relief Fund. This helped him surmount the cancer crisis which threatened his family. He said that his wife has recovered now. “Not only did your father help me at that time, but he also wrote a letter enquiring about my wife’s health after her treatment,“ he said and showed it to me. “Every bit of assistance, all help he did, stays in the hearts of people forever sir,“ he said. As he spoke these words, tears of happiness and gratitude streamed down his cheeks.

It was with the purpose of wiping the tears of such suffering masses and to help them meet the challenges posed by serious conditions like cancer that my father envisioned and put in place his pioneering healthcare initiative, Arogyasri. What can be a greater accomplishment than to carve a place for oneself permanently and live in the hearts and memories of people for all time?

In contrast, the manner in which the Chandrababu Naidu government tortured the disadvantaged sections of society, was described in detail to me by a 70-year-old man near Nadipalli today. This daily wage labourer told me that he met with an accident in which his leg got fractured. After going around government offices, he managed to get surgery done under Arogyasri. To his misfortune, the surgery was unsuccessful and he suffered from unbearable pain. His bone was jutting out and the doctors he consulted, told him that the operation to be performed again. This man, who did not have any resources, was told that the surgery could not be covered by Arogyasri. He had no alternative but to undergo surgery in the face of the pain that he was going through. It was under such circumstances that he met me even as he wept with pain and inexpressible sorrow. What will happen to such suffering poor, who constitute the most deprived segments of society if the scope of a healthcare scheme like Arogyasri, is restricted and a host of conditions imposed, making it difficult for them to undergo treatment?

I have a question for the chief minister—my father the late Dr YS Rajashekhar Reddy used to say that it is not the cost of treatment which is important, but the lives of the poorest of the poor. He had turned the healthcare scheme, Arogyasri into a lifeline for the suffering masses. What did you do after coming to power? Did you not impose slew of conditions watering down Arogyasri completely? What about the cheques issued by you under Chief Minister‘s Relief Fund? Is it not true that when they were dishonoured, people had to run around your house and Secretariat? Do people’s lives have no value in your eyes?