Kiran's vow of sacrifice has little recall value 24 hrs after it's taken
By GS Vasu | Published: 18th November 2013 01:32 PM |
Loosely translated into English Racha means uproar. Last Friday, something of this sort was what Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy attempted when he converted his “Rachabanda”- an official programme intended to address public grievances- into a political one by raising his pitch against division of the State.
Kiran’s challenge to the Centre did get him considerable air space on channels and front page headlines but a revisit to the same place just 24 hours later gives one a completely different picture. Leave alone an uproar, even the sacrifice he offered-his gaddi in his struggle to keep the State united- has either not registered in the minds of the people or they have just chosen to ignore it. The gathering was impressive, some 10,000, a majority of them, shepherded from different parts of the district on the promise of solving problems pertaining to ration cards, loans for housing and self-help groups.
They took the money given to each for having foregone a day’s work, had pulao for lunch and returned home in the same vehicles that brought them to the meeting at the local high school grounds. None the wiser than before. Just outside the high school, Chinna, an SC, was back to his small shop, busy at his traditional work- sewing chappals and sandals. The day the meeting was held, all the shops in the vicinity were directed to down shutters, citing security reasons. “Yes, we raised our hands when the Chief Minister asked us whether we want a united State,” he recalls and in the same breath, points out that it is like asking for divorce immediately after marriage. What he means is that the decision to divide the State having been taken, it is now too late for anyone to complain.
“Bagodandi” (not good) says Chinna in his typical North Coastal Andhra dialect if you ask him whether Kiran should float a political party on the plank of Samaikyandhra. Sekhar, driver of a school bus which was used to ferry people for the meeting, joins the discussion. “What is the use of floating parties ahead of elections? Look at what happened to Praja Rajyam Party (PRP). He (Chiranjeevi) is merrily enjoying the post of Union Minister after winding up his party,” he observes.
If anything, people recall the sops Kiran showered on the constituency-Rs50 lakh for the construction of a degree college building; Rs 1 crore for a drinking water project for the Chodavaram panchayat; 20 more beds for the local 30-bed government hospital.
But none his political discourse, perhaps because of the feeling that has already set in that everyone is responsible for division irrespective of their rhetoric.
You get the answer when you catch up with a group of youngsters at Gandhinagar village on the outskirts of the town. Ramakrishna, a farmer who owns six acres and cultivates paddy and sugarcane, shoots off a barrage of questions. “Why has Kiran not resigned earlier? What will he achieve by doing so now? Why has he continued in the party if he was against the decision that was made known to him much before the others?”
Mallesh, also a farmer, chips in by pointing out that even YSRC or the TDP also lack clarity. “Why should people of Seemandhra blame Chandrasekhara Rao of TRS? He stood for the cause of his people. But, our leaders haven’t,” he says.
In Kottur, where the Chief Minister had lunch at the camp-office of Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, you find huge flexis of Kiran and all local Congress leaders. On the other side of the road, Das, a batteries dealer, who belongs to the Velama community, makes no secret of his loyalty to the YSRC. “Okay. Kiran is putting up a fight. But, what is the use?” And, then the general contempt for political leaders comes out. “No leader and no party is sincere. Everyone will latch on to power as long as they can,” he replies when asked about Kiran’s promised sacrifice. He then throws a satire at Ganta pointing at the flexi which has pictures of his son as well. “You never know in which he will surface.” Ganta’s political life began with the TDP and then, he moved to the PRP before joining the Congress after the merger. For some reason, Das has decided to vote for YSRC this time but Srinivas, a Yadava, currently on a deeksha with black robes, quickly interjects to say it will be Telugu Desam this time.
The common thread is difficult to miss-whether in the hinterland of Krishna-Godavari basin, the parched districts of Rayalaseema or the backward places in this North Coastal belt-2014 election is going to be fought on the usual parameters based on caste, strength of the candidate and money power.
Amidst all the hungama over the proposed division, life has become difficult for the common man. At Venkannapalem village, Devundamma, who runs a small grocery store, complains of money not being given to self-help groups. They were a group of 10 and repaid Rs 4 lakh loan taken earlier. When they approached the banker for a fresh loan of Rs 5 lakh, it was refused on the ground that many groups haven’t repaid the loans.
Jagadish, a dealer in construction material including cement and paints, spends more time playing caroms with friends these days. As against Rs 8-9 lakh business per month in the past, it has dropped to around Rs 3 lakh, not enough to pay up for rent and staff, owing to agitations and money not being released for the housing programme for the poor. The micro-level answer he gives is: “Will my business go up if the state is kept united or will it go down if it is divided?” However, on a macro level, he demands that there should be a fair deal when division happens. When you seek his reaction to what the Chief Minister said just the day before, he quips: “Should we discuss him?”