Praja Sankalpa Yatra Diary, Day 101: Farmers Feel Betrayed By Chandrababu

Leader of Opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy   - Sakshi Post

Gadiparthivari, Prakasam district: Rural development has been severely impacted under TDP rule. The ruling party sees everything through a jaundiced lens and corruption levels of its functionaries have reached an all-time high. Ramana Reddy anna of the village Bandlamoodi told me in detail about the corruption being indulged in by leaders of the ruling party at the local level. He narrated at length how the poor were being cheated of their rightful means of livelihood by local TDP leaders.

Funds granted under the watershed scheme to the village were completely siphoned off by the ruling party functionaries. Funds meant for farm ponds were brazenly skimmed off by them. They dug pits with JCB machines and claimed money saying that the work had been carried out by labourers! They claimed money in the name of these labourers by fudging records and then threatening the poor villagers saying that they would be denied pension and rice among other things, they forced them to affix their thumb impressions on documents which said that they received money for work these poor villagers had never done.

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These proxy claims by TDP leaders in villages had reached an all-time high, he said, and added that they did not spare compost structures which was been built years ago. They claimed money for them as well!

My father, the late Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy had put in place several schemes to ensure that the funds meant for the deprived and the needy reach them. In contrast, the TDP government cares little for the underprivileged and has instead, unleashed Janmabhoomi committees on them, which are indulging in open plunder. This is unforgivable!

Farmers of subabul and eucalyptus oil belonging to Chimakurthi said that the government had issued a GO based on the recommendations of a four-member cabinet sub-committee which stated that subabul should be given a support price of Rs.4, 200 per tonne and jaam oil, Rs.4,400 respectively. However, the GO never got implemented on the ground, they lamented. They said that the government, in collusion with private companies, was cheating the farmers. They were not getting more than Rs.1,800 per tonne for Eucalyptus oil and Rs.2,500 for subabul.

Is this how disdainfully Chandrababu Naidu treats the farmers? This was their question in a tone laced with anger. They fondly recalled that during my father’s period, eucalyptus oil fetched Rs. 4,600 a tonne, while subabul fetched Rs. 4,200. I could empathise with their anguish. Chandrababu has turned into a middle-man himself. This system has to change, the farmer must be given a prime position in society and his needs should be given utmost priority. Our provider, the farmer, should be given the place of pride he deserves.

Almost every single farmer in Andhra Pradesh has been a victim of Chandrababu Naidu’s promise of loan waiver. Srinivasa Rao of Bandlamudi village in Prakasam expressed his anguish to me. He narrated how Chandrababu Naidu had promised the waiver of loans before elections. Like all other farmers, he too believed what Chandrababu had said. He went a step further and enrolled himself as a member of the TDP. He voted for the party with great enthusiasm. Once Chandrababu came to power, he pledged his passbooks in the local cooperative banks and borrowed Rs.80,000 in the hope that the loan would be waived. However after Babu came to power he received an amount of Rs.16,452 as the first instalment of loan waiver. “The amount I received is not adequate to cover the interest, sir. The bankers told me this,” he wailed. Since the banks were unbudging and insisted he repay the loan amount at any cost, he was compelled to borrow money and pay another 20,000, he said. The bank says that he still owes it Rs.1.10 lakhs and it now says that it will auction the 2 acres of land he has.

Chandrababu’s deception has now dawned on him. With righteous indignation, he fumed—“Is this how he takes farmers for a ride? Why am I being forced to sell my only asset—my land, my source of livelihood? Is this how he toys with the self-respect of farmers and their families?”

I could relate to his justifiable ire. I would like to tell Chandrababu that his is not the voice of one solitary farmer. His anguish expresses the suffering of millions of farmers across the state and lends a voice to their experience.

I have a question for the chief minister—hundreds of thousands of farmers in Andhra Pradesh say that they have sunk into an inextricable debt trap. Farmers everywhere say they are unable to approach any bank for assistance. What answer do you have for them? What solution can you provide to their problems?

If a GO issued by your government is not honoured and implemented, what sanctity does it have? What respect or regard will you and your Cabinet colleagues enjoy? What value is there for the recommendations of the sub-committee? Are such ministerial sub-committee recommendations and subcommittees only meant to cheat farmers? Is this not true? Didn’t one of your ministers say that you yourself had allowed them to distribute the loot of public money among themselves? If this is how the top leadership of the party and government function, how can the cadre or the officials at lower levels be any different?

—YS Jagan

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