Eepuru Palem Prakasam district: I spent the last day of my Padayatra in Prakasam district today. Prakasam was a unique experience, in terms of the deep insights it gave me on the problems being faced by people under the TDP government. This stood in stark contrast to my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy, whose vision was driven by the twin objectives of welfare and progress. People remember his period as a golden era in which the district prospered and progress was visible. Welfare schemes were properly implemented to the satisfaction of the beneficiaries. On the other hand, they are now victims of an apathetic government which thrives on deception and false promises. The masses suffer constantly on an everyday basis. I saw this for myself as I moved through Prakasam district. The efforts taken by my father to put in place irrigation projects and drinking water supply schemes were evident throughout the district. The little which remained for the completion of these projects and schemes, was neglected by the present TDP government and that was also obvious, as was the discrimination of the rulers in every aspect of life be it day-to-day governance or welfare schemes. My Padayatra covered nine constituencies of Prakasam district.

The Rallapadu project in Kandukuru constituency mirrored Chandrababu Naidu’s indifference. It hurt me to see the neglect this project suffered from. It was equally painful to listen to the problems of tobacco farmers who were prepared to surrender their licences! “We want to give up agriculture altogether,” they said regretfully. When people expressed their gratitude to my father for having quenched their thirst with water brought from Nagarjuna Sagar all the way to Kandukuru Municipality, my heart swelled with pride. When the paddy farmers of Kondepi constituency told me about the problems that they had been suffering from, I felt deeply disturbed. They said that agriculture itself had become a burden for them under TDP.

As for the dairy farmers of Ongole, the systematic manner in which this legendary cooperative dairy network which made Ongole famous all over the country, was now being destroyed by the self-seeking rulers of the day, as narrated at length by the dairy farmers, was another disturbing experience. Fluoride-affected Kanigiri, which has turned into a breeding ground of kidney diseases, left an indelible impression on my heart and mind.

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The problems faced by farmers of subabul, eucalyptus oil, kandi and sanega in Kanigiri, portrayed the insensitivity of the TDP rulers. The water woes of the people of Markapuram constituency, had to be seen to be believed. “Anna, for days on end, we wait for a water tanker to come,” they cried. Their experience was truly heart-rending. I could fully empathise with their anger and vexation at a government which could not provide basic facilities to them. If only the Veligonda project had been completed, all these difficulties would have been tided over.

My joy and pride knew no bounds when people came to me in large numbers and told me that the Ramatheertham project which fulfilled the water needs of Santhanoothala Padu, was living testimony to the outstanding work done by my father for this constituency. It was equally distressing to see the negligence of the TDP dispensation towards the little bit of work which remained to be done with regard to the Gundlakamma project.

The manner in which the granite polishing industries suffered at the hands of the Chandrababu government was indeed a very painful experience to learn on a first-hand basis. People of Darisi constituency had nothing but anger towards Chandrababu for deceiving them with false promises of bringing investments and industries to the area.

The Bhavanasi and Yerram Chinnapolireddy projects in Addanki constituency, held a mirror up to the TDP’s indifferent attitude. Chilly and sanega farmers of the region detailed their difficulties to me and the situation on the ground only showed how callous the government had become towards the farmers of the region.

The land-grabbing being indulged in by the leaders of the ruling TDP in Paruchuru was a shocking revelation. The brazenness with which they grabbed land belonging to the most deprived sections of society, including dalits, made me wonder when the people of this area would be emancipated from the tyranny of these rulers. The suffering of weavers in Chirala, was another grim reminder of the harsh neglect of the TDP rulers.

My conviction to better the lives of these suffering masses, became stronger. I became even more convinced of the need to shoulder the onerous responsibility imposed by the people of Prakasam district upon me, looking up to me and finding in me the same compassion and empathy which they saw in my father. I resolved to live up to their expectations and justify the confidence they reposed in me. The love and affection they showered upon me unconditionally made me stronger in my belief to serve them with utmost dedication.

I have a question for the chief minister—my father had undertaken several welfare projects and schemes in Prakasam district. In the 13 years of your governance, have you undertaken even a single project?