BETHAPUDI (GUNTUR):Jana Sena chief and film actor Pawan Kalyan assured the farmers in the capital region of leading the agitation if the state government forces them to give up their lands using the Land Acquisition Act. “If needed, I am ready to take up fast unto death for you,” he announced.
Addressing a well-attended public gathering at Bethapudi village in Mangalagiri mandal on Thursday, the actor-turned-politician said his foremost thought was the welfare of farmers.
“There is no need to worry. If you do not want to give up your lands, no one can force you. If they try to invoke the Land Acquisition Act, I will stand by you and lead the agitation to protect your lands,” he said amid cheers.
When prompted by Pawan, who sat on the stage interacting with the farmers, to explain the reason for her refusal to give her land, a young woman farmer said she has half acre in which she cultivates three types of flowers in a year. “With the income I earn from that, I take care of my family and educate my children. If the government takes away my land, what about my family’s future?” she asked.
On being questioned about the package being offered by the government, she said it will be implemented in 10 or 20 years. “What would my family do till then?” she wondered.
Asking her not to worry, Pawan said no one would take away her land from her and reassured the farmers of the village that he would stand by them, if they were not willing to give their lands. An elderly farmer said the Bethapudi farmers would not believe the government as it had betrayed them twice. “They had taken away our lands 30 years ago for VGTM UDA township. The promised 4 cents land per acre is yet to be given. They again took our lands in 2013 for bypass road. How many times should we sacrifice our lands?” he sought to know.
Pawan wondered why 30,000 acres was needed for the capital, when 8,000 acres would be sufficient. Even Putrajaya, administrative capital of Malaysia, was built in 8,000 acres over a period of 10 years. “Only the required extent of land should be acquired. I thought 90 pc farmers have given their land voluntarily. Now I will speak on the issue with government,” he said.
He recalled how the YSR government had acquired more land than required for projects like VANPIC and no development had taken place. He also wondered how the cash-strapped state government would build capital.
In Tullur, Errabalem and Undavalli, some farmers who gave their lands had expressed their concern over the implementation of the package announced by the government. “Whether it will be implemented in toto or not is also a matter for concern,” said a farmer. Some claimed that farmers had parted with their land out of fear and not willingly.
A VIRTUAL PANDEMONIUM at Undavalli
At Undavalli, the first meeting place of Pawan’s visit, it was a virtual pandemonium, with the actor’s fans and his party activists rushing to the the venue. At one time, a near stampede situation prevailed and with fans climbing the barricades, many of which had collapsed. Even one of the tent poles also broke. Pawan’s speech was not audible for many in the gathering and he wound up the meeting much earlier than expected. It looked like a massive bike rally with hundreds of motorcycles following the Pawan’s convoy till Tullur. The other three meetings were comparatively well-organised and a good number of people had turned up at the venues. Pawan, attired in white kurtha and jeans and sporting trimmed beard, tried to mingle with farmers. He hugged the elderly, shook hands with the young and used their kerchief and cloth to wipe his face. At Bethapudi, he even ate some curd rice from the lunch box of a young woman farmer. Farmers complained to Pawan that ministers were threatening them. An aged farmer at Bethapudi said he had sought just 2 yards of land in the burial ground to express his frustration. “I asked Narayana to first give up his college buildings,” he said.