After I began my yatra today from Beeramakula in Chittoor district, I met an old woman Saradamma at Veduru Kuppam. She carried a photograph of her son and had tears in her eyes as she said—"Anna, I am an anganwadi teacher. Seven years ago, my son died in a road accident and I enrolled his name in the Chandranna insurance scheme or Chandranna Bhima scheme. So far I have not received any compensation.”
I felt very pained to see the plight of this poor old woman who lost her only son and who gets no compensation or support from the government.
After a short lunch break, my yatra entered the Chandragiri constituency to a tremendous reception. Festive air was palpable, thousands of people walked alongside me, there were party banners everywhere and you could see a general mood of the Sankranti spirit pervading the atmosphere. I addressed a conclave of farmers where a farmer, Munuswamy told me that he had to forego farming. When I asked him about the reason, he said that agriculture for him was no longer a viable option and he was not getting the minimum price for which he could sell his produce. Other farmers also expressed their anxieties and insecurities.
I felt deeply disturbed by the deteriorating plight of the farmers under Chandrababu Naidu’s rule. Sankranti is round the corner and it is the harvest festival of farmers, a festival in which the farmer our annadaata—provider of food—expresses his joy and demonstrates his satisfaction at the rewards he had reaped through an year of hard, painstaking labour. This annual celebration of the farmer’s year-old toil is aptly called Sankranthi Lakshmi. In Telugu they say—“ooru anta Sankranthi, jagamu anta kranti—Sankranthi in the village ushers in a universal revolution.”
However, there is no end to the farmer’s suffering—if his produce, the reward of long months of hard work, does not fetch him the minimum price, he is left high and dry without any support forthcoming from the present government. In the market however, the prices of all commodities, which symbolise the fruit of the farmer’s hard work, are paradoxically going through the roof!
Those who depend on agriculture constitute 65% of the population of Andhra Pradesh and the state is known as “Annapoorna”. The government can change the lives of farmers through focused work, according proper recognition to agriculture and farmer-friendly policies.
If farmers across Andhra Pradesh remember my father, the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy with great fondness and nostalgia, it is because he accorded a special place to agriculture. He believed, as any government with sincerity and commitment should, that the farmer should prosper and should be rewarded for his work through active government support.
In contrast, as we see today, if the leadership at the highest level in the government is driven by selfish interests and frames policies to reward its proxies, turning the farmer into a scapegoat, agricultural activity is bound to suffer greatly.
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu ought to introspect. Why is agriculture suffering and its canvas shrinking under your rule, Mr. Chandrababu? Why is it that Co-operative units are shut down only under your tenure and banks too are disbursing fewer loans? Why is it that applications of lakhs of agricultural power connections are pending in your rule? Why is it in your reign, an increasing number of farmers are committing suicide?