ANDHRA PRADESH

YSR accuses Naidu of wrecking rural economy

Chevella (Rangareddy) April 9. The CLP leader, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, began his 60-day-long 1,500-km "padayatra'' here on Wednesday by charging the Government with ruining the rural economy thereby forcing people to commit suicide.

In a brief speech before the launch of the yatra, he browsed upon several "failures'' of the Government and urged people not to resort to suicides in the face of adversity. "Suicides are no solution to your problems. Bear with the injustices for a little longer. The Congress under the dynamic leadership of Sonia Gandhi will usher in a golden era,'' he began.

``Continuous drought has only compounded your problems. The real problem is with the inhuman governance of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu. We have waged several battles to make him see reason. Mandays are not being created and there is severe fodder shortage. Drinking water is scarce. The Government does not have any answer to your problems. When we raise the issues in the Assembly we are simply suspended and thrown out,'' he continued.

The tirade proceeded further "suicides are not occurring for the sake of ex gratia as the Chief Minister claims. Here farmers, weavers, artisans and the poor are committing suicide because they are unable to bear the humiliation in the hands of Government agencies that resort to forcible collection of dues. The Government had stopped giving ex gratia for the last four years but suicides are continuing. Why do you attribute motives to the poor.''

Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy tackled the issue of "Telangana sentiment'' rather carefully (the Congress Forum for Telangana has asked him to clarify his stand on Telangana) by assuring the gathering that the party high command was aware of the issue and had even demanded a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC).

``But then, if the TD Government were to invest at least half of its external borrowings, in Telangana or in any other backward region would there have been under-development? Would anyone have demanded a separate State? Strengthen the Congress, I assure you, Ms. Sonia Gandhi will usher in the good old Indira-raj. The poor and the downtrodden would get their due only under the Congress rule,'' he reasoned.

Later speaking to The Hindu five km from Chevella near Indra Reddy Nagar, an enthusiastic Dr. Reddy accused the Government of ruining the rural economy by ignoring the local needs. "Agricultural and allied activity have come to a standstill. Lack of irrigation facilities has compounded people's problems. Small and marginal farmers are the worst hit. Had the Government created its Vision-2020 keeping people in mind, the latter would not have had to face this plight.'' He hit out at the claims that reforms were being ushered in with a human face. "This is the most cruel face and an inhuman one. Due to lopsided priorities, the rural economy lies in shambles now. The first priority should have been making the rural economy buoyant? The Government had concentrated all its resources and efforts on creating islands of prosperity amid an ocean of poverty. For whose sake is he (Mr. Naidu) governing? The World Bank or the IMF? ''

The deputy leader of the CLP, P. Shankar Rao, who was accompanying him, lashed out at TRS leaders for trying to "distort truth.'' "If they are interested in people, they would not have talked like this. The yatra is aimed at wiping the tears of people. It is to comfort the suffering masses. Someone who walks out of the ruling party because he was deprived of a plum post has no business to talk about the backwardness of the region. TRS leaders or its founder are here only because of personal deprivations but not because of any love for people.''