Ramabhadrapuram, Vizianagaram district: When it comes to sports and games, the Chandrababu Naidu government brags about its contribution and support, while doing nothing on the ground. Vizianagaram, one of the most backward districts in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is the cradle of many outstanding softball players.
This morning many such sportsmen met me. All of them came from a very impoverished background and had participated in national and international tournaments. The most unfortunate aspect of it all was that they had to try and find help and support for everything on their own, including uniforms, sports equipment and even travel expenses. The government did not support them in any way.
I went past several vegetable farms along my Padayatra today. Vegetables from this region have gained tremendous reputation for their high quality. They are sent from here to other states including, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. The sad part is that the farmer who produces these vegetables is in a pathetic state and does not benefit in any manner. Marpina Lakshmi of Sompuram lamented that she had to turn into a daily wage labourer though she owned 2 acres of land because there was no water supply for her small patch of land. She is forced to support her family on the meagre wage of Rs.120 she is paid every day.
Another farmer, Chukka Satyavati expressed anguish at the exploitation by middlemen. Since there were no cold storage facilities in the area, farmers here were compelled to sell their vegetables to middlemen at the end of the day for very low prices. They were completely at their mercy, she lamented.
Villagers from Yitlamamudipalli and Bankuduvalasa met me and narrated to me at length the loot in the form of mining of manganese which was being carried out by the mining minister. Not only are the ruling party leaders indulging in indiscriminate mining of resources, but are carting away soil, stones and rocks, which form the leftover material of this mining activity. They are claiming bills stating that this material is being used for laying roads. The villagers expressed their anger about the minister saying that he made tall claims of development but all that he is doing is indulging in rampant corruption and looting.
Kandukuru Gangaraju, an elderly man, who came from Chinnabirapalli in Khammam district, hailed from the Vishwabrahmin community and made a living out of crafting wooden dolls and figures. He met my father during his historic Padayatra and my sister, Sharmila, during her long march, and now he came and met me. He showed all three of us his work, the handicrafts he so painstakingly made. It was indeed inspirational to meet this 95 year old who had such a passion for art and crafts at this age.
I have a question for the chief minister—your party manifesto said that you would provide godowns and cold storage facilities in every mandal of every district and that the government would ensure that the farmers get profitable price for their produce. Have you created this facility in at least one mandal in these four and a half years?