Peravaram, East Godavari District: I had my lunch break near the Cotton Barrage Centre this afternoon. The mighty Godavari flowed majestically and gazing upon it, was the statue of the “Pitamaha of Godavari Delta”, Sir Arthur Cotton. My father’s imposing statue also stood there. Can there be a greater example of the fact that visionaries, leaders and statesmen who serve the common people, dwell in their hearts forever?  Both these great men of vision serve as fountainheads of inspiration because they stood foremost in recognising the worth and value of irrigation projects and the necessity to take care of the needs of future generations.

Sir Arthur Cotton is considered the Bhagiratha of modern times. We cannot find words enough to praise this great visionary, who brought fertility and abundance to this region.  It is tragic to see that the present day rulers lack minimal concern and understanding (a millionth) for the needs of the region, as compared to this great man who hailed from another country, and came to this region out of the compulsions of his professional career. These were the words jotted down by my father, the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, during the course of his Padayatra in these parts. Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister at that time, and today he happens to be the chief minister!  But there has been no change in his mindset or governance. His focus remains primarily on publicity and corrupt, illegal means of accumulating wealth.

Contract workers from the electricity department met me today. They lamented, “Sir, we have been working for 20 years and yet enjoy no job security. We survive on very meagre salaries, barely making the two ends meet.  Chandrababu Naidu‘s stewardship makes us feel insecure. We have the nagging fear that we might lose our jobs.  At the time of elections, he had promised to regularise our jobs.  Now, he is out to sack those in service.”

Transco employees who met me later had the same story to narrate. “In Chandrababu Naidu‘s previous tenure, he came up with contract employment in the guise of reforms in the first phase. Now he is talking about the second phase and outsourcing of services.  The underlying secret is to privatise electricity services and hand them over to his cronies, driven by his greed,” said the Transco contract employees, expressing their anguish. “How does one explain the motive behind the handing over of a 132 kv substation to private operators at Rs.52.5 lakhs, when it was running successfully and smoothly at an expenditure of Rs.22 lakhs?” It is evident that the chief minister who brags about functioning like a CEO, rather than an elected chief minister,
is primarily driven by a profit motive more than any concern for the welfare of employees or any element of humanity.

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Women from RS Nagar met me and complained of the neglect they suffered at the hands of the TDP government. They recalled that they moved from huts to proper houses, thanks to my father, who thus transformed their lives. Expressing their gratitude to him, they said that after his untimely demise, no leader ever bothered about their condition.  This TDP government is the worst ever, in this respect, they said. “Our colony has no outlet for sewage and as a result, the foul smell around is unbearable. We live in miserable conditions in this area infested with mosquitoes, pigs roaming freely.  Sewerage water and drinking water pipelines run alongside, and neither the collector nor the local MLA ever bothered to redress our grievance, despite our repeated complaints,” they said.  They lamented that many of them were afflicted with serious diseases, and yet no one paid attention. “We are not even being treated as human beings,“ they deplored. I was deeply moved by their plight.  It is only at the time of elections that the ruling party politicians, who spend hundreds of crores of rupees on Pushkarams, think of these people who live right here, in the same region!

My poser to the chief minister—is it not true that you are outsourcing the work of substations at twice their current cost, though they are functioning well within their allocated budgets? Is this not being done only because of commissions?  You had promised to regularise the services of contract employees at the time of elections and now you are determined to sack them? Is this justice?