Idamadaka, YSR district:
After 7 days of my padayatra, I am finally at the last section of YSR district. Beginning on Monday morning, I trekked 13.8 km to reach Idamadaka, a village, located on the fringe of the district. Turmeric farmers met me along the way. Their plight is no different from that of groundnut, black gram and coriander farmers. It’s the same old pitiable story of high pre-harvest price crashing down by harvest time sharply. The pre-harvest price of turmeric was Rs 15000 per quintal. It plummeted to Rs 5800 by the time the produce was harvested.
One chief cause of this steep price fall, to me, appears to be the failure of the Government to announce minimum support price before the harvest time. Another is the Government’s failure to buy the crop if the prices crash down. Thirdly, the Government has no plan to stabilize market prices. The result? The tail wags the dog. The traders play the market and tweak prices to suit them. What is worse is that bigwigs in the Government are willing partners in this sordid saga. This needs to end.
Venkatasubbaiah from the SC community met me along the way. He said during YSR’s regime, he was never pressurized to pay the power bill. But now, even a day’s delay invites penalty of Rs 100 per day. Is the government’s act of playing Shylock and insisting on extracting its pound of flesh from the SCs, who do not have any fixed source of income, justified? I assured him that in Rajanna Rajyam, SC ST colonies would get free power.
Avula Nagalakshmi of Moodillapalli highlighted another problem. Her husband’s alcoholism is wreaking havoc on their family of limited means. She has a small job, while her husband is a farmer. However, his entire agricultural income and every penny she earns goes down the drain due to his chronic addiction. “Anna! Do something to drive this devil out,” she pleaded. I assured her that once our government is formed, we will surely wipe the tears of every sister.
At Kanagudur, at a BC conclave, leaders lamented about the dire poverty and lack of incentive for the BCs. They wanted me to take concrete steps for poverty alleviation in the BCs as against Chandrababu’s cosmetic measures like giving an iron box here and an artisan tool kit there. It is important to put in place three measures to ameliorate the lot of the BCs and drive out their penury. Firstly--an incentive of Rs 15000 per annum to every mother who sends her two children to school. This will be done under Amma Vodu scheme. At the college level, we shall implement fee reimbursement in full. Every student would be given a stipend of Rs 20000. We will also give pensions to everyone from the SC, ST, BC and Minority communities who is above 45 years of age. For this, I have a clear-cut plan of action. If better and innovative ideas are put forth for their welfare, we are ready to implement them. As soon as the padayatra concludes, we shall organize a BC Garjana meet and come out with a BC Declaration.
The TDP in its manifesto promised to provide free education from KG to PG levels. It has been three-and-a-half years, but nothing has been done so far. Not just that, they are even trying to water down the fee reimbursement scheme with riders and conditions. Does this not amount to duping the BCs? Is this the love that you profess you have for the BCs? Are BCs mere vote banks? Is this your commitment to BC welfare?
At Tanguturu, a turmeric farmer, Nandyala Oopaiah and his sister Subhadra, offered me their love and affection-filled Sankati and Ullipai (porridge and onion – typical rural Rayalaseema delicacy).