The Assembly on Thursday began a debate on the drought situation with the Opposition describing it as “unprecedented” and accusing the government of remaining indifferent to the plight of farmers.

The Opposition members briefly stalled the Question Hour earlier with Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu urging the chair to set aside the business and immediately take up the debate on drought, which was slated for discussion later. The TDP and the TRS members displayed sheaves of dried crops in the House at the beginning of the Question Hour. Terming it “improper”, Speaker N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced that he would allow the debate at ahead of schedule.

Later, initiating the debate, P. Keshav (TDP) urged the government to declare the State drought-hit and seek a special package of Rs. 10,000 crore from the Centre for combating it. He also demanded that an all-party team be deputed to Delhi.

Accusing the government of remaining indifferent to the unfolding situation, he criticised Ministers and officials for not visiting drought-hit areas. He said that 1,020 mandals received deficit rainfall and 70 farmers had committed suicide in the last two months.

Suicides by farmers show that the assurances given by government failed to create confidence in them.

Cheruku Mutyam Reddy (Congress) asked the TDP not to make a mountain of a molehill by presenting a grim picture about drought. He asked the Opposition to cooperate in efforts by the government to instil confidence in farmers and not try to gain political mileage.

TRS plea

The House heard TRS MLA K.T. Rama Rao in rapt attention as he spoke with ease for well over half-an-hour.

Barring one occasion when he pleaded with the Speaker in English that he was making a long speech for the first time, Mr. Rao spoke throughout in Telugu.

Mr. Rao, a former employee of a shipping company in US and son of TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, appealed to the government to be liberal in supply of power for agriculture in Telangana districts as the region had 16 lakh out of 24 lakh agricultural pumpsets in the State.

Hilarious moments

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA K.T. Rama Rao kicked off spontaneous laughter in the Assembly on Thursday with what appeared to be an offensive comment against the Speaker but quickly retraced steps to shower praise on him.

Participating in the debate on drought, Mr. Rao stunned everyone saying people in his constituency were unhappy that Speaker N. Kiran Kumar Reddy never gave him a chance to speak.

What was the use of attending the Assembly when the Speaker did not allow him to speak and the Finance Minister did not release funds to mitigate the crisis on account of drought?, the public informed their legislator.

Mr. Reddy asked the debutant MLA to observe restraint.

Came the addendum from the MLA: “Let me complete, Sir. I told them the Speaker is a nice man. He gives me mike every time.”

The Speaker laughed away the remark saying “it does not matter whether I am nice or not”.

Vanga Geeta (Praja Rajyam) said she had referred to debate on drought in the past from records in Assembly library and found there was no change in its content now. The only difference was the change in ruling party.

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