Jerrypothulapalem, Visakhapatnam District: Love and affection know no limits. Sai Ganesh, who is pursuing his ITI came to meet me all the way from Hanuman Junction. He travelled all night changing two trains and had to walk for 5 km. I was deeply touched to learn that he saved up some money on the days he worked (one day in a week) and took the effort to come and meet me during the course of my Padayatra. I counselled him to study well and help his parents. He nodded his head with abundant happiness. Several complaints came to me today as well, on the indiscriminate land-grabbing activities of the ruling Telugu Desam party leaders. Farmers of Sabbavaram and Paravada mandals met me.

They complained to me about the forcible acquisition of land in the name of satellite township near the tri-junction. Poor farmers were being subjected to grave injustice, they lamented. One such farmer, Lanka Tata Rao died of cardiac arrest, unable to withstand the shock of his land being snatched away from him in this unjust manner. These tragedies have become a common occurrence under a government which is unconcerned about the suffering of the deprived and which grabs their land to pass it on to the leaders of the ruling party.

The villagers of Jerrypothulapalem and Chintagantla are also victims of land grabbing by the ruling party. They narrated to me at length the irregularities being committed in assigned lands meant for members of the SC community in the name of NTR housing. They told me how ruling party leaders had resorted to quarrying in the lands of the poorer sections of society after laying roads there. They expressed their anguish at attempts to acquire land of the poor for the IOC pipeline, while the land belonging to TDP men remained untouched. Records were being tampered with and government land was being sold by the ruling party leaders, they told me. On the one hand, errors in ration cards and Aadhaar cards of the poor remain attended for years and they are denied their pensions and ration on this pretext. But TDP leaders waste no time in modifying records and grabbing the land of the poor. This is also the case with state-owned land. The village of Jerrypothulapalem has aunfortunate association with one of the most heinous acts in recent memory. A Dalit woman here was stripped by leaders of the ruling TDP. The incident shook the conscience of the entire country. The poor victims met me and expressed their gratitude to our party for standing by them in their hour of need.

The TDP government has forgotten all about governance and administration and is pre-occupied with land grabbing. The whole of north Andhra is gripped by epidermics of dangerous viral fevers which are proving fatal in hundreds of cases and yet the administration is unconcerned. Appalaraju of Nandavarapuvanipalem sobbed inconsolably as he told me how he lost his daughter to dangerous, life-threatening fever. Chittada Srinu of Moodapaka also lost his life in a similar fashion. I was deeply pained to learn of these incidents. The government should have intervened immediately and declared a medical emergency and instead, it is indifferent to the magnitude of the problem. The legislative assembly is used as a forum for mudslinging against the opposition. Precious time meant for solving the many problems which the people are suffering from, is wasted in trying to stifle the voice of the opposition and criticise anyone who questions the government and its corrupt activities. The entire democratic set up has been vitiated by the manner in which turncoat MLAs have been bought and honoured by the ruling party. The legislative assembly which is supposed to uphold the law is violating it brazenly. How can one expect a house which does not respect democratic values to honour the voice of the people?

I have a question for the chief minister — to which party do the four MLAs who defected to the TDP and have been honoured with ministerships belong? TDP? Or YSRCP? Do you have the courage to clarify this on the floor of the assembly? Isn’t it guilt on your part which is speaking when you accuse us of boycotting the assembly, when it is you who have violated all constitutional ethics by admitting MLAs of our party into TDP?

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