Palakollu is an ancient capital of culture. It is the birthplace of several historical personalities, great men of art and literature and also occupies a very high place in the map of sacred pilgrimage centres. A Pancharama Kshetra which traces its history to Lord Sri Rama and Sita, it is a holy place of great religious significance. My Padayatra proceeded from Palakollu today to my great happiness. However, there was one discordant note. Such a historical place and ancient cradle of culture, today is a picture of neglect and corruption, thanks to the TDP regime. How does one explain the fact that this town enjoyed abundant supply of safe drinking water from 1930 and yet today is struggling to quench its thirst! This reversal in fortunes took place thanks to the current TDP government.
In the midst of such a worsening situation, my interaction with an old woman, Rameswarapu Lakshmi from a Nayee Brahmin family, brought me some joy. She told me that she had undergone heart surgery during my father, the late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy‘s tenure under his landmark healthcare programme, Arogyasri. She met me to express her gratitude. She said—“In days when one’s kith and kin do not bother, your father also wrote a letter to me after the surgery, asking me to inform him if I had any problem. See the level of his concern for the poor!” She carried with her the letter my father wrote, which she had got framed. I was overwhelmed by this display of affection. Such was the adoration that the common public had for my father and for the work he did. He lived in their hearts for that reason alone.
Further down, I met student representatives of BC/SC welfare hostels who said that the Chandrababu Naidu government was neglecting them completely. “Anna, the TDP government has so far shut down 653 SC hostels. In Palakollu alone, of the 24 which were there, 13 have been closed. They are putting forth lame excuses that there aren’t enough students. They also promised to build residential schools in place of these welfare hostels, but not one has come up. The number of students who dropped out on account of closure of hostels, has gone up.