The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu sits mum in line of suicide fire
- Cong leads House attack on former CM

Hyderabad, June 2: N. Chandrababu Naidu and his Telugu Desam Party today came under attack in the Assembly from the ruling Congress and its allies for the spate of suicides by farmers and the plight of the community.

Congress members, supported by the Left parties and the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, said the Telugu Desam, during the past nine years it ruled Andhra Pradesh, ignored farmers and the common man in its pursuit of “IT dreams” and “enriching a few sections of the society”.

Chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy urged legislators to cut across party lines and join in his government’s efforts to stop the suicide spree. In his opening statement on the three-hour debate on the issue, he said his government’s “holy mission” was to rescue the poverty-stricken “anna data” who has entered into a suicide pact with death to escape the vicious circle of crop failure and mounting debts.

Naidu and his MLAs sat mostly in silence — they had no reply to the charges. Feeble attempts at intervention by former minister . Janardhan Reddy and former Speaker Y. Ramakrishnudu were thwarted by the Congress members.

Left members also joined in the criticism. Nomula Narasiah, a CPM leader, said “farmers had left letters in his name to take care of their family before committing suicide in his constituency”.

TRS leader in the House Satyanarayana Raju said the Telugu Desam should apologise to the people for statements like “farmers committed suicides for the sake of ex gratia money”.

The comment was a reference to a remark by Naidu when he was chief minister. In reply to the Congress’ demand of Rs 1.5 lakh compensation for families of every farmer who had committed suicide, Naidu had said that more farmers would be tempted to take their lives for the compensation.

Rajasekhar Reddy said his government has initiated several measures like ex gratia compensation, helplines to reassure desperate farmers and moratorium on co-operative loans.

“Discussions were held with the Nabard (National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development) to facilitate postponement of arrears and waiver of interest and also to facilitate the farmers with subsidised seeds and fertilisers for the next crop,” he said.

The chief minister said he has plans of touring the drought-affected regions from June 13 to get a first-hand impression of the plight of the farmers. “Every Wednesday and Sunday of the week hereafter, I propose to visit the villages and review the situation,” he told the House, adding that he wanted all the members to make similar tours of their constituencies and inform the government about the prevailing situation for speedy action.

The chief minister said officially 47 farmers had committed suicide in the state since he took over.

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