Farmer gifted tractor by Sonu Sood contested Andhra Assembly polls in 2009

Updated on Jul 27, 2020 07:26 PM IST

Veerathallu Nageshwar Rao claims he was a dummy candidate

Bollywood actor Sonu Sood had gofted this tractor to Veerathallu Nageshwar Rao in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh after a video of his two daughters tilling the field went viral.(ANI)
Bollywood actor Sonu Sood had gofted this tractor to Veerathallu Nageshwar Rao in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh after a video of his two daughters tilling the field went viral.(ANI)
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad | By

A farmer from Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district who was gifted with a tractor by Bollywood actor Sonu Sood on Sunday had unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections in 2009 on behalf of a political party and has been a beneficiary of the government’s welfare schemes, enquiries by district officials revealed on Monday.

Veerathallu Nageshwar Rao of Mahalrajulapalli village of K V Palli block came under the limelight, when Sonu Sood sent a tractor to his residence on Sunday evening after a video of Rao’s two teenage daughters – Vennela and Chandana, tilling the land by pulling the plough went viral on social media.

Officials of the K V Palli block who visited the village on Monday morning came to know that Rao was a human rights activist and had contested the assembly elections on behalf of Lok Satta Party in 2009. His family had received benefits from the government under various schemes.

“Last year, Rao had availed of financial assistance to the extent of 13,500 under YSR Rythu Bharosa-PK Kisan scheme for groundnut cultivation. This year, too, he was given 7,500 under the scheme in the first installment. “His younger daughter, a 10th standard student, got a benefit of 15,000 under Jagananna Amma Vodi scheme, while his elder daughter has applied for financial assistance under Jagananna Thodu scheme,” an official from the chief minister’s office quoting the report of the K V Palli block officials said.

The official said Rao had also received a bag of Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser from Rythu Bharosa Kendra and used it for groundnut seed for cultivation. “Actually, he should sow the crop through seed drill machine, but since it came late, the two daughters along with parents started sowing,” the official said quoting the enquiry report.

While the house where they have been staying in the village was sanctioned under Indiramma Housing Scheme, the parents have been receiving old-age pension. “The family also received financial aid of 1,000 from the government during the pandemic,” the official said.

Nageshwara Rao, a tea stall owner at Madanapalle town, told reporters that he had come to the village to take up farming in the two-acres of land because of the lockdown. He said he could not afford to hire oxen or tractor to till the land as he had no money.

“My two daughters volunteered to help me in tilling the land because it was the right time for sowing. My two nephews also helped them. It was not done for fun or get publicity,” Rao said.

He admitted that he had contested the elections from Madanapalle. “Actually, I was just a dummy candidate. I was working for a local doctor who was supposed to contest as the Lok Satta candidate. When he realised that he was not going to get many votes, he forced me to contest. I got a little over 1,000 votes,” Rao said, adding that he had no connections whatsoever with any political party.

He also acknowledged receiving benefits from the government. “We have suffered badly because of the Covid-19 situation. But we did not beg anybody for assistance. We never expected that the video our daughters tilling the land would become viral and Sonu Sood sir would help us by sending a tractor,” Rao said.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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