Chinna Waltair, Visakhapatnam District: The incredible response which my Padayatra has been receiving throughout Visakhapatnam is indeed overwhelming. Today, all roads leading to North, South and East constituencies were packed with people. It was difficult to move forward—there were people along every inch of the way. In spite of all the crowds and congestion, people managed to reach me with their appeals and petitions. They narrated their troubles to me—the unemployed, contract and outsourcing employees and people from the most backward sections of society. People from all walks of life kept coming and pouring out their troubles to me.
Pharma D students wondered why they had taken up their course because at the end of six years, after having spent lakhs of rupees, they were still struggling to find a job. There are 58 institutions across the state from which thousands of students step out, equipped with their degrees and then find themselves without any avenues of employment. JAC, the representatives are gearing up for a struggle on account of such problems. Do they have an option after four and half years of deception? Not a single person has been able to find a job, they complained. “Chandrababu Naidu had promised to regularise our jobs, but we are being treated as slaves and are not being paid our salaries on time. He is firing even those who have jobs now.“ This is what contract employees of the state government told me, while expressing their anguish about their state.
The government ENT hospital’s outsourcing staff also said that they felt betrayed by the TDP government. They thanked me for voicing their problems in the assembly. Trauma care and GVMC workers told me that they were not being paid their salaries for months on end. Sanitation workers were deeply troubled that their services were going to be handed over to corporate institutions.
This TDP rule is riddled with paradoxes and contradictions. On the one hand there are no avenues of employment and on the other, employees find themselves without any sense of job security! Chandrababu’s Ananda Andhra Pradesh appears to be a mirage. Today I met some of the protesters enforcing the bandh near Asilmetta. The extreme suffering which the poor of this country are being subjected to on account of the steep hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, is beyond description. It has a cascading impact on essential commodities which is adding to the misery of the common man. Both the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh government have to share the blame for this deplorable state of affairs. While the Centre keeps hiking prices, the state government under Chandrababu Naidu has resorted to increase in taxes and surcharges which do not have a parallel anywhere in the country. This back-breaking hike is causing great suffering to the man in the street. Shouldn’t Chandrababu who is as responsible as the big babus of Delhi, be blamed in equal measure?
I had a prolonged interaction with members of the Brahmin community this afternoon. Expressing their deep anguish at the existing state of affairs, they said that there was a dire need to protect temple lands and properties. They narrated the problems they faced, the injustices and humiliation they were being subjected to. It is not surprising that a government headed by people who have neither the fear of the consequences of sin, nor any devotion to God, would treat a community dedicated to priesthood, serving God and learning, in this unjust manner! As I passed by Andhra University, I thought of the rich legacy that it had inherited and its hoary history. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Dr. Kattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy and other distinguished scholars served this great institution with distinction. It was during my father’s tenure that appointments were made in Andhra University, I was told. Nothing happened thereafter, employees told me. It was during his tenure that they were recognised as NMRs. With great fondness, they recalled the contribution of my father.
I have a question for the chief minister—is it not true that Andhra Pradesh has the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest petrol and diesel prices? Are you not directly responsible for this? In the four years you spent as an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, did you ever criticise the BJP on at least one occasion on this count? Worse, have you not added additional taxes and surcharges to petrol and diesel in Andhra Pradesh?