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Rousing start to YSR's `Jaitra yatra'

By K. Venkateshwarlu

CHEVELLA, (RANGA REDDY DT.) AP The Congress leader,Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, on Monday launched the party campaign with an appeal to people to vote out a regime that "behaved worse'' than the British using bullets to "silence'' the voice of those who merely demanded reduction in power tariff and subsidised seed.

Dr. Reddy compared the police firing on Left party agitators at Bashirbagh in Hyderabad a few years ago, with the famous Jallianwala Bagh incident and said no other Government could "unleash such terror'' against its own people. The Government again showed its "cruelty'' by firing at farmers here when they were demanding subsidised seed and lathicharged anganwadi women, demanding hike in their wages.

In contrast, the Congress, in the event of coming to power, would ensure free power to the farm sector, crop loan at 3 per cent interest, construct eight lakh houses every year and register them in the names of women and remove unemployment. Revolving fund would be released to DWCRA groups and loans provided at 3 per cent. "As the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, has been promising, we will ensure that the long lost smiles on the faces of people return."

Dr. Reddy's "Jaitra Yatra" (a mass contact programme) atop the "Congress Vijaya Ratham," an improvised van, was flagged off by Ghulam Nabi Azad, All India Congress Committee general secretary, and D. Srinivas, president of the AP Congress Committee at Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad in the morning. Lambada women stopped the "ratham" for a while, demanding party ticket from Chandrayangutta, to their leader who is on fast on the Gandhi Bhavan premises. Before proceeding to Gandhi Bhavan, he garlanded the statues of Rajiv Gandhi, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram. Then he sought blessings at Dargah Yousufian at Nampally and at Sai Baba Temple at Dilsukhnagar. G. Muddukrishnama Naidu, the party spokesperson, joined him at the Ambedkar Statue.

At Chevella, braving a scorching sun, a large number of people welcomed him a kilometre away from the Sri Venkateswara Temple grounds, the venue of meeting, with groups beating drums and shouting slogans of "Rajashekar Reddy, kaboye mukhyamantri (would be Chief Minister), zindabad." They brought Dr. Reddy, standing atop the "ratham" along with P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and Konda Laxma Reddy, party candidates for the the Chevella Assembly and Hyderabad Parliament constituencies respectively, in a procession. There was enthusiastic response from people and they kept cheering Dr. Reddy every time he criticised the Telugu Desam Government and told them how the Congress Government would bring about a change.

Referring to the Union Minister, Bandaru Dattatreya's reported remark that the farmers were not committing suicide but dying of indigestion, Dr. Reddy said there could no other "shameful and inhuman" observation at a time when farmers were reeling under worst ever drought, unable to get employment and remunerative price for their farm produce. "It is not farmers who are suffering indigestion, but ruling party leaders from earning a lot. There is a Minister hailing from Ranga Reddy district, who has officially declared Rs. 77 crores as his assets. Unofficial assets could be much more." He said his "Praja Prasthanam Padayatra" last year was to rouse the Government from "deep slumber,'' while the present "yatra" was to seek support from people. He had chosen Chevella, because of the affection showed by the people earlier.

For Dr. Reddy, this would be his second "yatra" within a year's time, after his highly successful walkathon of 1,500 km between April and June last year.

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