The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh is under major criticism that its government neglected Self Help Groups (SHG) and Backward Classes (BC) communities in the last four and half years, as Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu recently announced a number of sops for these communities, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The state government has recently announced ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’, a capital infusion scheme for the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) groups, under which every woman of these groups will be gifted Rs. 10,000 in the coming months. On January 25, Naidu attended public meetings at three places - Amaravathi, Kadapa and Vishakapatnam - explaining about the scheme and stated that the women will receive the promised money in three instalments by April this year. Alongside, Naidu promised to distribute one smart phone to each member of the self-help groups.
On the following day, while addressing a TDP meeting ‘Jayaho BC Sadassu’ (a convention of Backward Classes), Naidu announced a series of promises to Backward Class communities, who form over 50 per cent of the state population.
These sudden promises are being criticised as political ploys by the TDP, months before the state is going for Lok Sabha elections. “After TDP came to power in 2014, at least one fourth of SC and ST women (over one lakh members) have dropped out from SHGs, as a result of the government's stringent conditions with respect to withdrawal of money from their accounts and interest repayments,” said D Ramadevi, state general secretary All India Democratic Women’s Association.
Speaking with NewsClick, Ramadevi claimed that the DWCRA women have been tortured by bank officials to pay bribes in the name of processing and inspection charges, when they apply for loans or even while withdrawing their own money from their savings accounts. She added that the new scheme is also a political tactic as the state government failed to properly implement the ‘zero interest scheme’ promised during the previous elections.
Also Read: Telangana Polls: TRS and Congress-led Alliance Under-represent Women and OBC Community
There are more than 90 lakh women who are part of more than 7.20 lakh SHGs in the rural areas of the state.
Sops for BC communities
Naidu announced a package of promises for members of BCs in the state - starting from setting up separate corporations for every BC caste to distribution of free electricity.
However, even as the CM claimed that various existing BC federations will be upgraded as corporations, state Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Babu Rao claimed that the government had failed to even allocate funds to the federations.
“TDP government did not revise the minimum wages for unorganised sector workers, who are predominantly from backward castes and now the CM is talking about BC welfare,” Babu Rao told NewsClick. He added that while lakhs of members of BC communities have been working as contractual workers and tenant farmers, the state government failed to deliver the benefits to them from the government’s side under existing laws.
“The latest announcements are simply political ploys of the TDP as the state government has only furthered the interest of corporate giants in their regime,” claimed Babu Rao.
Among the new promises made by the TDP are upgradation of various BC federations, including Rajaka, Nayi Brahmin, Vaddera, Sagara, Uppara, Krishna Balija, Poosala, Bhatraju, Kummari, Setti Balija, Gowda, Ediga, Sirisena, Viswabrahmin, Medara, Yadava, Kuraba, Kalinga and Padmashali, as corporations; 100 units free electricity to 2 lakh families belonging to the Most Backward Classes in the state; enhanced free power supply to handloom weavers from 100 to 150 units per month; and hike in overseas education scholarship for BCs from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh.