Common man in a bind as State braces for polls

Common man in a bind as State braces for polls
Highlights

Voters in the State seem to be not so gungho about the December 7 elections to Telangana Assembly In the Telangana hinterland, the people have no time for elections as they are busy with their daily work to keep the wolf away from the door every day They seem to have not yet decided whom to vote, though they do not have so much antipathy for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi TRS that they

Hyderabad: Voters in the State seem to be not so gung-ho about the December 7 elections to Telangana Assembly. In the Telangana hinterland, the people have no time for elections as they are busy with their daily work to keep the wolf away from the door every day. They seem to have not yet decided whom to vote, though they do not have so much antipathy for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) that they want to throw it out, lock, stock and barrel.

In a sampling of public opinion in the three most important Assembly segments in the State, Gajwel, Siddipet and Sircilla, the voters are not bothered about elections and are neck deep in their regular work. They do not show much enthusiasm when this correspondent tries to strike a conversation with them on prospects of both the Opposition’s People’s Front and the ruling TRS.

As it is only a few days since the withdrawal of nominations took place, the candidates are slowly hitting the streets raising the noise pollution levels and making the already dirty, dusty and bumpy roads in towns and villages more unfit for the use by common man. For both TRS and People’s Front, the election is a question of life and death. For TRS it is a referendum on its performance and for Opposition, it is time for them to make the best use of the occasion to come to power which they had missed in 2014.

Unlike in the past, the voters are raising elemental questions. A tea stall owner in a village Ramancha in Siddipet constituency, Padma, hit the nail on the head when she announced that though she might vote for TRS, she was not very happy with it. “We do not want band-aid treatment to our problems. I have two daughters, one is doing BTech and another MTech. They do not have jobs. Empowerment of any section is not possible unless you help them lead a decent life. Paying Rs 4,000 per acre per season is not enough, though I am also a beneficiary of the scheme,” she said.

In Gajwel, election atmosphere has been there for a long time as KCR is contesting from here for the second time. When this reporter visited the town, a campaign vehicle of the TRS was stationed at the village square which was blaring TRS songs. They were often interrupted by the speeches of local leaders, but there was no crowd to listen to. In Gajwel and in neigbouring Siddipet, TRS winning the two seats is a fait accompli. Neither party is keen on campaigning as the result has already been decided. Though voters are not happy as their livelihood concerns have not yet been addressed, they are not ready to dump the TRS, not yet, as they see some modest beginning in dealing some of the malaises like corruption.

Srinivas, a diagnostic laboratory owner says: “I have some land. I was surprised when pattadar passbook and Rythu Bandhu cheque came to my house straight. For Rabi too, the money has been credited into my account. I did nothing. Earlier, I had to grease the palms of officials for effecting any changes in the passbook and still it use to be cumbersome and long.” It was his way of saying that treatment to systemic problems too had begun like dealing with corruption which has become endemic in society.

There are farmers who are beneficiaries of Rythu Bandhu, but are seething with rage with the government for not providing a lasting solution to the problems they are facing on the agriculture front. For instance, indebtedness of farmers. “Waiving loans is not a solution. In fact, TRS had waived Rs 1 lakh loan. However, it was of no use to farmers. As the loan waiver money paid to banks was in instalments, it was adjusted against the interest payable by the farmer,” said a farmer Mallesh, on the outskirts of Gajwel. He was indicating that it was time the government ensured remunerative price for the agriculture produce so that the farmers do not have to go in for loans or even if they do, they do not have to look to government to waive them.

Mallanna Sagar, though there was agitation against acquisition of lands under modified Land Acquisition Act, others who would benefit from it are allowing themselves of hope that the canal works underway would make their area a land of milk and honey. If those who lost land are angry, those who benefit are happy. It is a picture of contrast. “If this canal is in place, our lives will be on gravy train,” a farmer Venkatesh, who owns about five acres land, said.

In Siddipet, though there is no doubt about KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao winning from here, people are not very excited about what lays in store for them. Siddipet is a major town now in Telangana which could be compared to Karimnagar, but the question of unemployment has a jarring effect. The youth look for jobs and the track record of the government has not been all that satisfactory. “We expected that the government would provide employment. But it did not happen. Even in the private sector, jobs are few in numbers,” a degree student Bhaskar said in Siddipet, while farmers in villages are looking for Ranganayaka project which when done would change their lives. “I am expecting the TRS government to complete it as soon as possible,” one farmer Srinivas, said.

In Sircilla, a constituency where weavers are quite substantial in number, election atmosphere is yet to catch on. The public meetings addressed by the Chief Minister had charged up party workers, but voters seem to be disinterested in the excitement that the parties are trying to build. In some areas where weavers are in sizeable numbers, one could still hear the clatter of the power looms working though, according to locals, the number has come down with the avocation not being very profitable. Though Bathukamma saree project has not brought in revolutionary change in the living standards of weavers, it is at least providing them livelihood on a regular basis. “Earlier even this livelihood used to be not there.

We have work and we are getting about Rs 15,000 per moth which is quite handsome for us. Earlier, we were not even getting this much,” Narayanam, a power loom worker in Sircilla said. But the weavers community men, who are into tailoring, have different stories to tell. They say life has become tough as there was no government support for them. Said one tailor Narasaiah: If, whichever government that comes to power, provides us some kind of guaranteed work like giving us tailoring orders for garments, life will become a little easier.”

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