ELURU: The felicitations hosted by the district administration on Wednesday as part of the 60th Independence Day celebrations, brought little cheers for Mellachervu Padmanabham, a nonagenarian freedom fighter from Chintalapudi area in West Godavari district. Hailing from Yarrakuntapalli, Padmanabham was jailed for his active participation in the Quit India Movement. “My arrest by the police failed to deter my fighting spirit. I filled all the walls in my lock up room with anti-war slogans, braving the police brutality”, recalls Mr. Padhamanabham. “The direction in which the country has been passing through after its Independence concerns me a lot. It even ponders me some times as to what for the sacrifices rendered by freedom fighters like me?”, he bemoans.
For him, the poor state of the school he established in his village is a cause for concern. The school, currently under the management of Zilla Parishad, did not have a compound wall. Besides, it also lacked toilets, putting the lady teachers and girl students to hardship, he complained to Minister for Minor Irrigation Maganti Venkateswara Rao and Zilla Parishad Chairman K.V. Nageswara Rao, who honoured him with a shawl and walking stick. “Is it the kind of dignity of women and women empowerment we are talking about day in and day out”, he asked. The Minister and the ZP chief promised to give the school a facelift.
The politics cast a shadow over the government-sponsored felicitation function, involving a dozen veteran freedom fighters, when a woman freedom fighter sought to highlight the need for the women reservation bill to become a reality so as to ensure women empowerment in all the public spheres.
The ZP Chairman interrupted to say that the Congress party, which he belonged to, was all poised to accomplish women empowerment under the stewardship of a woman (Sonia Gandhi).
He recalled how ‘Soniaji’ strove hard to tip a woman (Pratibha Patil) for the highest of post of President for the first time in the history of the country.