AP politicos walk extra mile to connect with masses



Hyderabad: Politicians in Andhra Pradesh are hitting the streets in a big way to connect with the masses and get across their message and vision for the state.

While TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has walked over 500 km in the last 29 days, covering three districts of Andhra Pradesh, former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's daughter Sharmila is close to reaching the 300 km mark in her 'walkathon' that began on October 18.

It is Chandrababu's effort through the ongoing 'Vastunna Meekosam' (I am coming for you) foot march to regain trust of the people and possibly become Chief Minister of the state once again.

Sharmila, on the other hand, is on a mission to help her brother Y S Jaganmohan Reddy -- now lodged in Chanchalguda prison here as an undertrial in the disproportionate assets case -- ascend the Chief Minister's throne.

She is now the flag-bearer of the 19-month old YSR Congress in the absence of her brother.

Both are attracting good crowds to their "road shows" and obviously feeling euphoric.

The 63-year-old Leader of Opposition has about 2,000 km more to cover in his yatra, while Sharmila has over 2,700 km path ahead.

Chandrababu has been giving promises in his bid to woo the people and trying to explain how the state witnessed all-round development during his previous stint as Chief Minister.

Sharmila says "Jagananna" (elder brother Jagan) will "restore" "Rajanna rajyam" (YSR's rule) if the YSRC is voted to power.

She will hand over the baton (of the yatra) to Jagan midway through the yatra if at all Jagan comes out of jail on bail.

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is also touring the state on an official mission as part of his "path-breaking" mass contact 'Indiramma Baata' essentially to build an image for himself.

Reddy has so far covered over 65 Assembly constituencies in 10 districts and will continue with the exercise at least till February next to cover the remaining 12 districts.

"Both Chandrababu and Sharmila don't know why they have undertaken the yatras. Being in the opposition, how can they solve your problems," Reddy questions.

The Chief Minister has so far announced various sops worth over Rs 3,000 crore to different sections, leaving the cash-starved government scouting for funds to fulfil the promises.

State Revenue Minister N Raghuveera Reddy, too, will take to the streets on a foot march in Kurnool and Anantapur districts to "celebrate" the completion of the first phase of Handri-Neeva Sujala Sravanthi, that brings the backwaters of river Krishna from Srisailam.

"It's a 40-year-old dream of the people of these two districts," he points out. The minister's 220-km yatra will be simultaneous to the trial run of the water scheme.

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president Botsa Satyanarayana says there have been many suggestions from his partymen that he, too, should launch a padayatra (as a counter to the yatras of Chandrababu and Sharmila) but he hasn't made up his mind yet.

At a time when the top Congress and TDP leaders are on yatra mode, some MLAs are quietly slipping out of their fold and ending up in the rival YSRC camp. One MLA each from Congress and TDP have just walked into YSRC while a few others are waiting in the wings.

"One or two MLAs leaving the party will have no impact. Fresh water will flow," Chandrababu avers.

Even the Chief Minister echoes a similar feeling. For everyone, 'Elections 2014' will be the finishing line and till then it will be a steeplechase for all of them.

PTI