After a wee bit of back and forth, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has launched his mass contact programme, Indiramma Baata. He kick started his efforts to be among the people in East Godavari district. Apart from interacting with farmers, weavers and youths who received jobs under government programmes, the CM played a spot of cricket. Taking on his detractors within the party, Kiran Kumar Reddy spoke in cricketing terms and declared that none could get him out. The wicket-keeper-batsman CM lashed out at critics after playing a few shots with students of the AP Residential College in Rampachodavaram.
Some Congress MPs have written to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi questioning the feasibility of the Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu programme which provides training to unemployed youth. The CM said he'd already clarified matters and that he never cared about what others said about him. "I will proceed with my plans," he said. An interesting part of the programme is that the CM will sleep over in school hostels or guest houses, photos of which are being circulated at a frenzied pace by the publicity department. Kiran Kumar displayed his petulant side, however, when interrupted during a speech at Amalapuram by farmers. He walked off and agreed to return only when farmers' representatives agreed to listen to him without yelling out their problems.
What the CMO is hoping for is basically that Kiran Kumar's image among the people will receive a major boost. For this, one needs to wait and watch.
A Political Masterstroke
YSR Congress honorary president Y.S. Vijayalakshmi is taking on the Telangana Rashtra Samiti on its own turf. She is all set to hold a deeksha (fast) on July 23 in Sircilla for the cause of weavers. Vijayalakshmi's announcement has taken the TRS cadre by surprise since the party for long has assumed that non-Telangana leaders posed little threat. But ever since Vijayalakshmi and daughter Sharmila's campaign in Telangana during the recent bypolls, the TRS is coming to realise that this is not the case. TRS MLA in Sircilla and K Chandrasekhar Rao's son, KT Rama Rao has been hitting out at both Jaganmohan Reddy and Vijayalakshmi consistently. Rama Rao termed Jagan the most corrupt politician in the world and chided Vijayalakshmi for shedding crocodile tears for the people of Telangana. But Jagan's party has come up with a winner by announcing Vijayalakshmi's deeksha. Sircilla has a significant weaver population and this section's problems have never really been addressed fully. Both handloom and powerloom weavers operate in Sircilla. Though government schemes have been launched time and again to address their problems, the lot of the weavers continues to remain pretty much the same. Interestingly, KT Rama Rao has seldom raised the issue in Assembly or in public speeches since the party's main focus is Telangana statehood. And this weak spot is now being capitalised upon by the YSR Congress. Rama Rao indulged in some political rhetoric saying the people of Sircilla did not need leaders from Andhra and Rayalaseema and that they could solve their own problems. He then tried another form of attack. The MLA said 250 weavers had committed suicide between 2004-2009 due to the YS Rajasekhar Reddy government's "lopsided policies". Both the Congress and TRS leaders say Vijayalakshmi is trying to boost the sagging image of her party through this deeksha. The Telangana Joint Action Committee has called upon people to disrupt Vijayalakshmi's proposed stir. One has to concede this however. It is a political masterstroke which is likely to win Vijayalakshmi sympathy and affection among T-voters.
After a chain-snatching incident in Warangal, police there have imposed a ban on women covering their faces with dupattas and scarves. Since women who covered their faces with chunnis were involved in the crime, police reason that faces of all women must be seen now. This has created a stir in the state with college students, women's activists and civil rights groups lambasting the move. Most young women in Warangal and even in Hyderabad cover these faces almost completely with dupattas leaving only the eyes to be seen. The growing pollution, harsh climate and eve-teasers are among the reasons cited. In Warangal, there have been several acid attacks on women as well leading them to resort to the safety of dupattas to conceal their identity. The battle between women and police has just begun and some students' bodies are even planning to organise protests in this regard.
The bleak power situation in the state has led to long power cuts in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Power cuts range from anywhere between three-five hours in the twin cities. This has thrown up another question about Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy's proficiency as an administrator. Both Chandrababu Naidu and Y S Rajasekhar Reddy had always managed to keep power cuts to a minimum in the capital. Industrialists now crib that Kiran Kumar Reddy is allowing Hyderabad to lose its hi-tech image by giving the nod for power cuts.
And when Kiran Kumar Reddy is not creating his own problems, his ministers are doing the honours. Minor irrigation minister T.G. Venkatesh raised a furore recently when he remarked that "non-performing IAS officers should be shot dead". Addressing a public meeting in Kurnool, Venkatesh said that IAS officers were slowing down developmental works by returning files with one query after the other. "Babus who do not perform their duties must be shot dead by people," the minister thundered. This led to an agitated IAS Officers Association convening an emergency meeting and condemning the idea of mob justice being bandied about by the Minister. Venkatesh later tried to clarify his remarks saying politicians and bureaucrats were like the two eyes of the government. Venkatesh said his intention was to ensure that officials and politicians performed their duties by "hook or crook". He said his remarks were not aimed at sincere officers. But the IAS lobby is fuming. Kiran Kumar, meanwhile, in his characteristic style said he had not heard these remarks and that it was a “personal opinion” of the minister.