May 13, 2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 12: In his first-ever public demonstration for the cause of farmers after losing power a year ago, former chief minister and Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday staged "satyagraha" virtually shedding tears for the kin of ryots who committed suicide.
Chandrababu Naidu squatted on the ground chatting with the wives of victim-farmers and consoling them as some of them could not control their tears. He took a boy from one of the women and put him on his lap as he patiently listened to their woes. He then went round the satyagraha camp and met farmers receiving from them complaints on non-payment of compensation by the Congress government.
"Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy is celebrating his one year in office on May 14. The Congress is turning the event into a public function. What has the government achieved in the last one year to celebrate the event? I was in power for nine years. Never did I celebrate such an event", Chandrababu Naidu said amidst slogans of "we want justice".
Though Chandrababu Naidu is known for organising strong protests against the Congress governments when NTR was in power, it is for the first time that he is attempting to present a "down-to-the-earth" look before people, particularly farmers. Incidentally, it was the same Chandrababu Naidu who turned down the Congress' demand, when he was in power, for compensation to farmers who committed suicide. The argument he put then was that compensation would further incite them to commit suicides.
Women stood before Chandrababu Naidu to pour out their woes and inform him how the Congress government had "neglected them". A woman complained that Congress leaders had turned down her plea for compensation as she did not vote for the party. Another woman told Chandrababu Naidu that a Congress legislator from Nalgonda district had refused to visit mortuary after he came to know that her husband was not a Congress activist. Some of the women alleged that revenue officials were asking for bribes to process the compensation.
Ironically, Chandrababu Naidu kept the victims waiting for more than two hours as he arrived late at the venue. The satyagraha and rally was scheduled to start at 11.30 am. The women with children were kept near Ambedkar Bhavan near the Tank Bund as Chandrababu Naidu was scheduled to flag off the procession.
As the TD supremo did not turn up even after two hours, the local TD leaders took out the procession. Chandrababu Naidu joined them at Indira Park and conducted the rest of the agitation in NTR's style.
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