Gopalapatnam, Visakhapatnam District:My Padayatra concluded in rural Visakhapatnam and I set foot in areas which are under Greater Vizag. Land value escalated steeply as these lands fell under urban jurisdiction and TDP leaders’ land grabbing activities were clearly on the rise. It was evident that the scale of their illegal land-grabbing activities was no less than the scams swirling around Amaravati.

The poor villagers of Jerrypothulapalem lamented that D-Pattas which were given to them since they belonged to the most deprived layers of society, were being forcibly occupied by TDP leaders. They were being sold indiscriminately, they complained. Quarrying was taking place in land belonging to Dalits, they said. In spite of stay order from the court in their favour, they were not being allowed into their own land, they said. Women from Pedanarava also had the same story to narrate. Land which had been theirs for more than five decades was now being grabbed from them by TDP leaders. They complained that leaders from the ruling party dug up land on which they had been cultivating cashew crops for many years, carted away the soil and sold it. While most governments give land to the poor and needy, the TDP leaders were trying to snatch away whatever land the weakest sections of society enjoyed for their only means of livelihood.

Women farmers from Gavarapalem met me along with retired agriculture official and expert, Nookeswara Rao. They proudly showed me a trophy they had been awarded during the tenure of my father, who had encouraged farmers through the Polambadi program.

Women farmers of this area utilised this opportunity given by him to generate the highest yield with low investment. In doing so, they set records in this sector. They said that my father was the only leader who honoured farmers along with poets and artistes on the occasion of Ugadi. They suggested that it would be in the fitness of things to institute an award for farmers in his name, a thought which made me feel proud and brought great joy to me.

Help to farmers should not be restricted to election promises alone—the rulers must empathise with the suffering of the poor farmer. The cultivator in the field can create miracles if only he is supported strongly by the government with sincerity. Contract employees and dairy farmers of the Visakha dairy met me. They told me about the irregularities in the organisation and the injustices they were being subjected to. This is what happens when a cooperative dairy in which the farmers should be stakeholders, is converted into a family concern. It is the worker and the farmer who suffers the most in such instances. This is indeed exploitation of the hard work put in by others and deriving selfish advantage out of it. Govardhan, an employee of the power department, who was from the village of Narava, met me today and told me that he had joined as a contract employee on a salary of Rs.2000. In his spare time, he would graze cattle to supplement his income. After my father regularised his services, his life underwent a complete transformation. With great pride, he showed me a photograph of my father which he kept in his Puja chamber.

Once again I could see that if a ruler has the welfare of the people of the state as his highest priority, he dwells in their hearts forever.

I have a question for the chief minister—at the time of elections you had committed yourself to the regularisation of contract employees. You also said that your government would provide a job for every household. Once you came to power, you resorted to outsourcing all services. On the one hand there has been no filling up of vacancies in government jobs. On the other, services are being outsourced for commissions. People are being sacked from their jobs, but you claim that lakhs of jobs have been filled and that you have fulfilled all your election promises! Doesn’t the guilt arising from such deceit prick your conscience?

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