If Telugu Desam president Chandrababu Naidu has just completed his 208-day padayatra, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has upped the ante of his welfare programmes. The CM appears to be constantly touring various parts of the state publicising schemes for the poor while announcing several other populist programmes. His hectic heli-hopping has triggered the debate among some senior Congress leaders about whether Kiran Kumar is laying the ground for early polls. Some of them believe that though the state is going through the worst power crisis and price rise ever, people are still banking on the Congress for popular schemes such as the Re 1 a kg rice, Arogyasree and the newly introduced Amma Hastham (supply of kitchen essentials at an affordable price). The mass contact meetings of the CM are more or less poll campaigns, say these leaders.
Most recently, Kiran Kumar has won over the hearts of textile traders by scrapping Value Added Tax (VAT) on cloth. After a financial crisis in 2010, the state government had levied five per cent VAT on cloth. It later changed the tax structure introducing a one per cent tax on the total turnover. Finally, Kiran Kumar announced that his government would abolish the one per cent tax on the total turnover as well. This has appeased textile merchants tremendously and they are now singing praises of the Chief Minister. Abolition of VAT on textiles was one of the items on Chandrababu Naidu's poll agenda. Must say Kiran Kumar has scored on this point.
Many feel that the Congress would gain enormously if it were to call for early Assembly polls after the monsoons, mainly because YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy is still in jail and the TDP, despite Naidu's padayatra, is still not prepared for polls.
Chandrababu Naidu ended his Vastunna Meekosam yatra with a massive public meeting at Visakhapatnam on April 27. Attended by top TDP leaders and large numbers of party cadre, the meeting even saw some speeches by Telangana leaders. After recounting a few incidents during his yatra, Naidu launched straight into his poll promises. He promises interest-free loans for farmers, women and minorities, removal of belt shops, doles to the unemployed and drinking water to every house among other things.
It would have helped though if Naidu weren't such a dull speaker. After nearly seven months on the road, he could surely have regaled the audience with a more colourful speech.
Tomato Growing Tips
Now oratory is never a problem when it comes to TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao. The people who turned up at the TRS's 12th anniversary rally at Nizamabad, again on April 27, were putty in KCR's hands. Before showering pre-poll promises, KCR hurled abuses at the TDP, Congress and the YSR Congress. He termed them all nincompoops and anti-Telangana leaders. His list seems to promise the moon to the people of Telangana. Among other things, KCR promises eight hours of power supply to farmers, free education from KG to PG, three acres of land to Dalits, a steel plant at Bayyaram and turning 10 districts of Telangana to 24. KCR also promises two-bedroom houses for the weaker sections in place of the one-room houses that the state government currently provides. "These so-called houses are not even fit for goats, let alone human beings," he said. "How are a husband and wife, their children, parents all supposed to sleep in one room? Does the government not have some minimum common sense? Will Kiran Kumar Reddy live in a single room," questioned KCR. The TRS MP and president also refuted allegations that he takes off for his Medak farmhouse often to get away from it all. "It is not a farmhouse; it is a 10-acre greenhouse where I cultivate vegetables. With the greenhouse technology, I can cultivate 210 tonnes of tomatoes as against 30 tonnes with normal technology, KCR boasted. Surely, KCR can certainly share a tip or two with the farmers of the state.
Visitors at the Nehru Zoological Park of Hyderabad were in for a surprise when one of its inmates, a chimpanzee named Suzi opened the latch of its cage and decided to take a morning walk. The 21-year-old female chimp which was brought from Pune last year evidently had enough of its enclosure and wanted to breathe free. Since it was before 10 am, there were only 50-odd visitors and three staffers around. All of them ran helter skelter and the staffers were injured in the process when Suzi swiped at a sweeper with her palm and bit a gardener in his calf. She was finally sedated after a 15-minute chase and taken back into her cage. In her earlier home at the Pune zoo, Suzi used to take morning walks with her trainer and pose for photographs with visitors. The change in the social scenario does not seem to please her much now. She also does not get along with Jimmy, another 25-year-old male chimpanzee, also housed in the zoo. Suzi likes to kick off her mornings with some black coffee. She brushes her teeth and has fruit, eggs and bread for breakfast. She is very much like a human, says the zoo curator A Sankaran.
Not As Lucky
In another animal story, a wild boar created a stir in the Gachibowli campus of the Tata Consultancy Services. TCS is built on an SEZ and has thick tree cover at its rear. The wild boar went on a rampage and injured two workers. It damaged some glass windows of the building as well. Terrified staffers were told not to step out of their offices till the matter had been dealt with. The boar was not as lucky as Suzi though. It received injuries during its rampage and died while being transported to the Nehru zoo.
The May 15 Aadhaar-LPG deadline will not be extended, the state government has been informed. Well over 50% of the city's households do not have the cards yet. This would mean misery for many because they'd have to forfeit the subsidy of Rs 463 per cylinder. What's more, officials of the Unique Identification Authority of India in the city admit that some of the data of people who enrolled in 2011 and early 2012 has been lost. This would mean that such applicants would have to go through the whole nightmarish process again.