The scorched and nondescript town of Chevella in Rangareddy district, 50 kms away from Hyderabad, provided the backdrop to the launching of the statewide election campaign of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and the promise he made was apt but people found it difficult to believe.
"In the next four years, we will make Chevella and the surrounding areas as green and fertile as the Godavari delta", YSR told his maiden election meeting of the season. "Ours is the only government to dare to take up an irrigation project like Chevella-Pranahita at the cost of Rs 38,500 crore", he said asking the people to bless him and Congress party with another term of five years.
Though the turnout at the meeting was not as big at Chevella as those attracted by film stars like Chiranjeevi and Junior NTR but the response was enthusiastic enough to boost the hopes of Congress leaders. As YSR recounted his welfare schemes ranging from free electricity to the farmers, free treatment of major ailments to the poor families, cheap rice, housing and loans at 3% interest to women, the crowd cheered and applauded him.
"Please think what all benefits you have got during last five years of Congress before casting your vote", he told the people specially the farmers. "We have not left a single election promise of 2004 unfulfilled". This was the recurring theme at his subsequent election meetings in Vicarabad, Pargi, Kodangal and Tandur before entering Medak district, traveling in his state of the art air-conditioned bus. YSR promised to increase the quantity of Rs 2 per kg rice to 30 kg per month for a family and duration of free electricity to the farmers to 9 hours a day from present 7 hours a day.
But the farmers in the meeting complained that the electricity supply was quiet irregular.
The turnout was much better in other places.The choice of Chevella was not with out reason. YSR believes this place to be blessed and auspicious for him for many years. This was the place from where he started his famous 1600 kms long walk across the state at the peak of 2003 summer which helped him in coming to power next year. Subsequently he launched several welfare schemes from the same place.
Incidentally Chevella is also the constituency from where the union minister for urban development S Jaipal Reddy is contesting for Lok Sabha.
While highlighting his achievements both on the welfare and development front during last five years, YSR also targeted the opposition, specially Telugu Desam. He ridiculed the election promise of TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu to supply free electricity to the farmers 12 hours a day. "You please ask him how you can believe in such promise when he had opposed welfare schemes while in power. When we made promise of free electricity, he had taunted that there will be no electricity in wires and they will be used for drying cloths".
Targeting Naidu on the promise of free rice, the Chief Minister recalled that when he came to power in 1995 he increase the rice of price from Rs 2 per kg toRs 5.5.
Jaipal Reddy sought the support of the people citing his service of record during last forty eights years. "I have been elected to the state assembly four times to the Lok Sabha six times", he said adding that he was elected because he was basically a worker who was always with the people. "As the urban development minister I sanctioned schemes worth Rs 2200 crore for Hyderabad including supply of drinking water from river Krishna and underground sewerage system for Shankarpally and Rajendernagar", he said.