Gauripalli, West Godavari District: Today, my Padayatra moved by the banks of the mighty Godavari River into Kovvuru constituency. As soon as I stepped out, Nissikumar of Tadiparru village met today with his two young daughters. These 3 to 4 year-olds have been waiting for some news of their mother who went to the Gulf to eke out a living. They earn their livelihood working as daily wage labourers. The children’s mother apparently, went to Qatar to make both ends meet and to ensure that her children enjoy a bright future. She hoped that if she went to a Gulf country, their lives would improve, but got conned by an agent.

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Initially, she would say that she could not bear the physical and psychological torture that she had been undergoing. She desperately wanted to return. After a few months, she stopped communicating and there was no news from her. When they approached the agents who were responsible for sending her, they washed their hands off the matter and when they approached the police out of sheer helplessness and filed a complaint, they said that the police remained completely indifferent to the issue. The reason for this was simple—the agents thrived on account of the patronage of the TDP leaders which they enjoyed.

I was deeply saddened by the tales of suffering narrated to me by those who could not find opportunities of employment locally and had to migrate to other states or countries out of sheer necessity. It was the case of Suresh Goud I came across the other day, and today that of this young mother. There were thousands and thousands others who suffered a similar fate. It is because of the rulers who, though they claim to have created lakhs of jobs, have in reality, diluted employment schemes. The reality at the ground level is that even the employment guarantee scheme stands totally watered down.

There are cases when though there is inherent merit in an individual, poverty becomes a serious impediment to growth and development. As for government support or encouragement, it is hardly forthcoming. Rani Naganjali, a sprinter, who belonged to a very impoverished background, is a determined girl who motivated herself, since no government help was forthcoming. She had no resources to buy even running boots used by athletes,but she struggled to somehow make it to the state-level and national level events. She brought the state laurels, winning medals in dozens, although she could barely manage to survive on a day-to-day basis. She is an exceptional gem hidden in the wilderness of indifference. I felt deeply disturbed by the thought that she had to give up her sport because poverty stood as an insurmountable barrier.

“There’s no help from the government at all, sir,” she complained. The Kapu Corporation also does not support us,” said her father, expressing his anguish.

Even when it comes to encouraging sports persons, the Chandrababu Naidu government's attitude is based on discrimination. At the same time, when it comes to furthering its own selfish interests, it spends crores of rupees. The result of such discriminatory policies is that outstanding athletes and sports persons such as young Rani Naganjali suffer only because of their poverty.

In my interaction with members of BC communities in Mallavaram, I was constantly reminded of the betrayal and deception indulged in by Chandrababu Naidu. Hundreds of student hostels meant for those from the backward class communities, were shut down. Thousands of students found themselves on the streets, thanks to such measures by the TDP government. I was reminded of the fate of thousands of poor BC students, who had to abandon their studies because the fee reimbursement scheme had been totally diluted.

I was reminded of the letter written by Chandrababu Naidu about lawyers from BC communities, saying that they lacked the competence and integrity to become judges. I thought of the promises made in the TDP manifesto in which a page was assigned to each community. I recollected how Chandrababu Naidu arrogantly said he 'would skin those who questioned' him on the fulfillment of his promises. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Chandrababu Naidu has not spared any community when it comes to deception and betrayal.

My poser to the chief minister—is it not true that you treat backward class communities as vote banks and show false concern towards them, without doing anything for their socio-economic and educational empowerment? Have you not been using them merely as a social ladder to achieve your own political ends? Did you not discard the very ladder which helped you get to power, once your objective was achieved? Is this not cheating?