Gruel versus chicken soup. That’s the debate the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Telugu Desam party (TDP) are currently engaged in as farmers continue to resort to suicides with crops failing and prices of essential commodities shooting up in Andhra Pradesh.
TDP leader K Yerran Naidu says that as many as 65 farmers have ended their lives in the state during the past few weeks due to the drought situation.
The whole thing started with the TDP organising a rice gruel center at Gun Park, right across the state Legislative Assembly on Monday to highlight the crisis faced by farmers due to the failure of monsoons and government’s ‘utter apathy to their plight’. (Rice gruel kitchens are very common during drought in the state).
The TDP activists, which included half a dozen party women legislators, prepared the gruel with the Rs 2 a kg rice that government gives to BPL families. They also made pulusu (a kind of broth) by using the water from Bholakpur, one of the most contaminated areas, which saw large number of gastro-related deaths recently. They named the dishes as Sonia Pulusu and Rajiv Ganji, obviously named after Congress President Sonia Gandhi and late Rajiv Gandhi, to tease the ruling party.
Later they performed a skit on the high prices of essential commodities and how porridge was the only item that is affordable for people.
On Tuesday it was the turn of Chief Minister Rajasekhar Reddy to hit back. Reddy declared that what the TDP leaders consumed was not ganji or gruel.” It was chicken soup ordered from a nearby hotel. I have pucca information about it.”
Reddy charged that the TDP leaders were not sincere about farmers’ issues and only shedding crocodile tears.