Bodagudipadu, Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district: This morning at Dundigam village, some dairy farmers met me. Though they looked very happy on meeting me and came to greet me with cheerful faces, I could see that their hearts were heavy. They said that water was more expensive than milk! This statement alone sums up their suffering and the circumstances they are battling against. They found themselves trapped inextricably in the quicksands of debts and were unable to meet even the fodder needs of the buffaloes, they said. The price of the grass fed to animals was mounting all the time and with all the effort, they were left high and dry, they said.

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Their suffering was clearly evident and pained me deeply. Why is the farmer, in spite of all his hard work left with nothing but losses and debts? How is it that private organisations buy milk from the same farmer and make crores of rupees? If only, if only the networks of cooperative dairy societies were strengthened! If this had happened, the farmer would not have to face the crisis he does today. When I told them that once the YSRCP comes to power and Rajanna Rajyam was ushered in, they would get all assistance from the government in the form of Rs. 4.00 per litre. All the farmers cheered me on hearing this and felt extremely happy. They hoped that those days would be upon us very soon.

During my father, the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s period, farmers were an extremely happy lot, all of them recalled. After the Padayatra crossed Dundigam, a woman named Padmaja met me and echoed the same sentiment. She described my father’s tenure as a golden epoch for the farmers’ community. Not only did we have abundant rainfall, but the farmers got a good price for their produce, she said. It was only YSR who could give a bonus to the farmers, she said. In Chandrababu’s reign spanning four years, the growth in support price was to the tune of only 13% . During my father’s time, there was an unprecedented 82% growth rate! She pointed out that the support price in the past four years has not inched beyond 17%. If Dr YS Rajashekhar Reddy‘s rule could be described as most farmer-friendly ever, the Chandrababu Naidu Government could be characterised as the most anti-farmer establishment. Perhaps, it was for this reason that the cause of the farmers was close to my father's heart. It is precisely this thought and spirit which drives me on.

Near Itampadu village, some fair price shop dealers met me. They said that life was a day-to-day struggle for them. The government gave them 70 paise per kg as commission. This was not even sufficient to cover the overheads of running the shop, they lamented. Moreover, when they weighed the stock, there were clear discrepancies between what they were supposed to receive and what was actually provided. Their complaints went unheeded they said. Those belonging to the ruling party had a field day, they said. They did not know why they were being punished in this manner! They were being targeted with deliberate intent, they suspected. This could well be true. In the light of recent developments, one can understand their distress. We find Chandranna malls mushrooming everywhere and this is the brainchild of the chief minister himself—an idea which is meant to fill the pockets of the rich at the cost of the poor. Future group in which the Reliance and Heritage groups have shares is being handpicked through a process of nomination. Can there be a worse case of nepotism than this?

This evening, my Padayatra progressed through villages which were suffering from acute water scarcity. Instead of completing the pending projects and getting rid of drought conditions, Chandrababu Naidu has been looting the state exchequer with fraudulent promises and till such people stay in power, the masses will continue to suffer. This appears to be the bare truth. Finally, I have a question for the Chief Minister. In the nine years of your previous rule and in your present tenure up until now, have you ever thought of helping the farmers get a fair price for his produce? Did you ever take this up with the Centre? Isn’t it shameful that you did not write even a single letter to the Centre for an increase in support price to farmers?