Chowdepalle Cross Chittoor: My day began to a rousing welcome given to me by people from all walks of life—I walked to an overwhelming reception, claps, traditional music, dancing, blessings and invocations by Vedic pundits, traditional haarathi by women, people carrying the figure of my late father on their head and walking alongside me, party workers and people donning colourful costumes representing great characters from our Scriptures—this is how I walked into Chandragiri, where the mood of festivity was in the air.

When I heard people share their difficulties with me, when they spoke of the problems they were facing on a day-to-day basis, it became evident how indifferent Chandrababu Naidu was to other areas—after all this was his birthplace!

It is said that one’s place of birth is like paradise and that it ought to be treated as one’s own mother. That is the hallowed place it occupies in our tradition. We see NRIs always longing to contribute to the motherland in some way and yearning to be of some help and service to their country. It is considered good fortune to be able to serve one’s motherland. Even when one is bestowed with such an opportunity, if one chooses to fritter it away what are we supposed to make of such an individual? Chandragiri is woefully lacking in every possible sphere of life, be it roads, drinking water, hospitals, mango markets, schools—everything you come across seems to be in a state of complete neglect.

Even the school which Chandrababu Naidu had studied in, is a prime example of utter neglect! Chandrababu Naidu, whose own constituency is a picture of backwardness, brags about turning the state into Singapore! Whenever he visits a country, he says he will transform Andhra Pradesh along identical lines! When I look at Chandrababu Naidu’s attitude and behaviour, I am reminded of a proverb my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy used to quote. Loosely translated from Telugu, it would mean—“A man who left his mother to starve, promised to get gold bangles for his aunt!” The underlying implication of the proverb is—can you trust such a person?

In the Rachabanda programme held in Damalacheruvu, a bare-chested, shirtless, old man, Venkatachalam Naidu, came forward to speak and lamented about the suffering people were subjected to under the TDP rule. He elaborated with moist eyes, on how Chandrababu plotted to push the once prestigious Vijaya Dairy into a state of complete decline, to promote his own Heritage! He said farmers were put to great loss and their families faced indescribable suffering because of Chandrababu’s insensitive approach, which was driven only by a need to promote his own business interests. He also described how cooperative sugar factories were shut down, while private sugar plants mushroomed and were thriving!

This old farmer, Venkatachalam Naidu, took an oath that he would go shirtless and would remain bare-footed till life is breathed afresh into Vijaya Dairy! This Gandhian struggle from a grand old man, who has emerged as a symbol of popular resistance in Chandrababu Naidu’s native constituency should make him feel ashamed, yet his indifference and his thick-skinned attitude is shocking!

I met workers from Vijaya Dairy in Gundlapalli who pleaded in a heart-rending manner, for the reopening of the dairy immediately after YSRCP came to power. I was moved by their suffering. To push so many families into the quagmire of abject poverty for your own selfish business interests, is unforgivable. It is not how long you live, but how many lives you touch with your goodness, that counts.

In conclusion, I have a question for the Chief Minister—your own village and school are a picture of neglect and apathy. Isn’t it comical then for you to claim that Andhra Pradesh will emerge as a front-runner in your rule?