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Why Telugu Farmers Target Modi in Varanasi

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(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura)

While the rough and tough behavior, vandalism, the ungentleman comments and utterances of the candidates in the electoral fray  and their supporters are reported daily in the media and talked of by the voters, there is a silver line in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Few Constituencies attract special attention of the  nation for different reasons, within the framework of the Parliamentary Democracy. Let me pick up two samples.

Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh will be a probable witnesses to a multi-cornered contest, anywhere between fifty and hundred. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prayed to Kala Bhairava, Vishvanatha and Visalalakshi for the retention of his seat.

He has also sought the blessings of the Grand Old Man of Kasi, Madana Mohan Malaviaya, the founder of the Banaras Hindu University.

Apart from the traditional contestants from the Congress and the Mahaghtbhandhan, he is likely to face, symbolic fight from the turmeric farmers of Nizamabad in Telangana and members of the Pulasubbaiah Veligonda Project Sadhana Samithi from Prakasam Dist in A.P.

Many have filed their nominations seeking the reddressal of their grievances. Turmeric farmers have already vented their ire against the administration; 178 of them, out of 185 contesting the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat in Telangana.

“This is the first time in the world, where elections are conducted with such a large number of candidates using (such a large number of) EVMs,” claimed the Telangana Chief Electoral Officer, Rajat Kumar.

While they are seeking remunerative prices, the Prakasam farmers and people are up in arms against the lethargic attitude of the Govt and the tardy progress of the life saving Veligonda Project.

It is designed to supply drinking water to about 15 lakhs of fluorosis prone people and irrigate about 4.5 lakhs acres of drought prone area in Prakasam, Nellore and Kadapa Districts.
However this is not the first time that such a large number of contestants are in the fray to focus the attention of the nation.

In 1996 general elections 450 members of the Jala Sadhana Samithi of Nalgonda had contested from the Nalgonda Parliamentary Constituency to demonstrate their frustration in getting drinking water for their district. The Jala Sadhana Samithi had been demanding the execution of the Srisailam left Branch Canal (SLBC) which quenches the thirst of Lakhs of people and irrigates some lakhs of parched lands in the drought prone Nalgonda district and ultimately supply drinking water to the twin cities. It yielded results.

It is pertinent here that every administrator concerned, both political and bureaucratic shed crocodile tears for the farmers. But nothing concrete has been done in this direction.

This has been the special curse for the seasonal crops like the onion and tomato. The Veligonda Project got total clearance from all the departments of the Central and the Governments. The project was conceived, planned and designed and the foundation stone laid in 1996.

It was expected to be completed in five years. Successive governments have shown only half hearted interest in the execution, allotting meager funds in the budgets, just sufficient to pay the salaries of the staff.

If only Gandhiji were alive today, in his 150th year, he would have undertaken a Padayatra to Varanasi and Nizamabad to garland all the symbolic contestants. Gandhiji would have spun the thread himself, for the garlands. He would have undertaken the exercise, all along the route by using the local cotton. Perhaps he would have been detained en-route, fearing threat to law and order and disturbance to peace and tranquility. Democratic process is made use of by the people in a positive manner. They have neither boycotted the poll nor are interested in disturbing it. They are bent upon focusing the nation’s attention for the long-standing problems and making the voters, the election machinery and the administration realize it.

In this context, turmeric farmers’ and the Veligonda Jala Sadhana Samithi’s positive approach is praise worthy and deserves to be emulated.

The Government should realise that providing remunerative prices for the farmers, elementary education, primary health and drinking water should be the first agenda in its programme, The political parties must realise that instead of promising El Dora-do, they should identify the basic needs of the people and assure them in their manifestos and sincerely and honestly implement them after the elections. If the political parties cannot implement their manifesto, they should be derecognised by the Election Commission, as they cannot make thoughtless promises and play fraud on the people.

Before departing, I want to bring it to the notice of the readers that all these contestants have not resorted to the present method, multi corner contest, all of a sudden.

They have been engaging in the agitation, in different modes for decades; Representation, Strike, Bundh, Rastha rokho, Rallys, etc. Rajaji said: “Dumb people and deaf Govt do not make Democracy.” People are not dumb. If the administration fails to respond to the democratic methods, result will be chaos and confusion. Mob will take charge of the situation. Mob has many heads; but no brains.
By filing nominations in Varanasi, the Prakasam contestants are supplying one more weapon to the arsenal of the P.M., Narendra Modi against Chandrababu Naidu. Hope the response from the P.M. will not be another Tirupati assurance on SCS; Special Category Status.