May 30, 2024



YSRCP’s ‘brand ambassadors’ or general public servants? CM Jagan’s ‘army’ of volunteers has Opposition on edge

8 min read

A team of males from the Reddy neighborhood and staunch supporters of the YSR Congress Celebration in Vejendla | Picture: Prasad Nichenametla | ThePrint
A kilometre away, a bunch of Kammas, loyalists of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), are huddled behind a turmeric yellow-colored creating, which serves as their community corridor and the community TDP business office, with a included N.T. Rama Rao statue at the entrance. For them, the volunteers are “Jagan’s brokers, symbols of YSRCP’s corrupt administration denying them the federal government benefits”.
With a population of virtually 10,000, Vejendla has 46 volunteers, who are element of a whopping 2.56 lakh-sturdy organisation fashioned by the Jagan regime in Andhra Pradesh, quickly immediately after coming to ability in 2019.Connected to the 15,425 village/ward sachivalayams (secretariats) set up that 12 months, these volunteers serve the village or the municipal ward exactly where they reside. Every one particular of them is specified the obligation of a cluster of 50-100 households.Presented the size of its inhabitants, Vejendla has two Grama Sachivalayams (village secretariats), just one appropriate opposite the YSR statue.For over four decades now, these volunteers have turn into the accessibility factors of the govt for all needs — consciousness about programmes, identification of beneficiaries of techniques, like Cheyutha, Amma-vodi and others. They have specifically obtained recognition for delivering Jagan’s hallmark social welfare pensions — YSR Pension Kanuka — on the first of every thirty day period to the people’s doorsteps.
TDP and other Opposition get-togethers say that in addition to their duties, volunteers have come to be the eyes and ears of the YSRCP in each individual nook and corner of the point out, and that the facts they gather for official needs and the friendly rapport they have formulated with the people they help, are now becoming applied for driving the ruling bash to victory.In fact, various volunteers, together with two from Vejendla, were being suspended in March for having part in YSRCP candidates’ meetings, doorway-to-doorway strategies and other things to do just after the election agenda announcement.Primarily based on problems, the Election Commission of India, in the previous 7 days of March, virtually shelved the volunteer technique for the period of time of elections, asking them to hand more than the equipment offered by the federal government, like tabs and smartphones, to the district authorities.The effects were seen in the first 7 days of April, when about 60 lakh pensioners — old and widowed, tribals from remote locations, and many others — had to, soon after a gap of four and a 50 % years, trudge to the area federal government offices, and wait around in queue to accumulate their month to month Rs 3,000 in funds.
“I experienced to wait for three hours underneath the solar at an business for my pension this thirty day period,” reported 73-yr-old Kota Ramireddy. The governing administration orders, following ECI guidance, do, however, say that the handicapped and the chronically sick will get their pensions sent household by the government staff members.      Farmer Madanmohan Reddy and other folks blame opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu for the pensioners’ travails .“With the volunteer process, there is no have to have for any person any longer to check out the govt offices. Pensions, certificates like caste, revenue, ended up obtaining delivered at home, without having us squandering time or acquiring to shell out a bribe. These children were godsent to a lot of uneducated, unaware and ailing people, but Chandrababu and his companions injected unwanted question in the public’s head about their perform,” Madanmohan says, as his neighbour — also a Reddy — adds that the volunteer design should really be adopted across the place.
However, TDP loyalists Ravindra Babu and Haribabu Gavini say that the volunteers are biased toward the supporters of the ruling social gathering in conditions of  allocation of advantages, like housing for the poor.A Vejendla secretariat official states that there can be no real truth to the declare. “Listing of the men and women eligible for strategies by volunteers and selection of beneficiaries by better-ups is centered on files furnished, and carried out in a transparent, accountable method,” he reported.
Telugu Desam Bash supporters from the Kamma neighborhood outside the house the neighborhood TDP workplace in Vejendla | Picture: Prasad Nichenametla | ThePrint
Andhra Pradesh goes to polls on 13 May possibly for Lok Sabha and the point out assembly simultaneously.
Also Read: ‘My sisters element of Naidu conspiracy,’ states Jagan, asks Kadapa-Pulivendula voters to pick YSR successor

‘Volunteer procedure an efficacious model’On an particularly sizzling working day at a Grama Sachivalayam in the fishing harbour village of Nizampatnam in the neighbouring Bapatla district, couple of staff members customers are on their lunch crack. They say that the volunteer system has tested advantageous in a number of techniques.“Being locals, these volunteers are very well acquainted with their neighbours. Recognition and identification of the needy beneath a welfare scheme has turn out to be rapid and simple. Implementation of a new programme made use of to choose a few to six months previously, but now it can be done in 15-30 times. Revenue and caste certificates are now becoming issued in a working day or two. These employed to take just one or two months,” a person of them claimed.The village-ward secretariat and volunteer procedure is also said to have immensely assisted the Andhra Pradesh governing administration for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, ASHA and other well being personnel on responsibility.
A single of the two Grama Sachivalayams in Vejendla | Photograph: Prasad Nichenametla | ThePrint
But what about the allegations of volunteers siding with the YSRCP and their tries to influence voters?“These volunteers are not government staff bound by service guidelines. We are unable to curb their political affiliation or activities. Worries have been elevated and some motion has been taken as the election code is in spot, but the volunteers experienced been accompanying legislators and leaders as part of the YSRCP govt community outreach programmes, like Gadapa-gadapaku mana prabhutvam (federal government at just about every doorstep), earlier,” a senior civil servant advised ThePrint.The volunteers are appointed by a mandal, municipality-level panel, typically on recommendation of YSRCP leaders and legislators with no any test or job interview. The volunteer could be a farmer, day-to-day wage earner, personal college teacher or a better training university student. They are paid out an honorarium Rs 5,000 for each thirty day period and are demanded to register attendance at their respective sachivalayam twice a week.CM Jagan experienced even launched awards in recognition of the volunteers’ “selfless service” — Seva Mitra, Seva Ratna and Seva Vajra, with the dollars prize hiked this calendar year to Rs 15,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 45,000, respectively. He had explained them as model ambassadors of his welfare techniques and that they need to develop a good picture about the YSRCP governing administration.  
What Jagan’s ‘soldiers’ say
ThePrint interacted with numerous volunteers in Guntur, Bapatla districts in coastal Andhra, and Kadapa of Rayalaseema, who dismissed any talk of working as Jagan’s brokers or favouring YSRCP supporters in the allocation of governing administration added benefits.Satyanarayana Reddy and Kasi Reddy, two of the 46 volunteers in Vejendla, said that they do not have such electrical power or any scope to favour everyone because their get the job done is “very substantially public”. Men and women have grow to be very conscious currently and need to know why their software is rejected, they additional. Mahendra Bukke, yet another volunteer in Puttampalli village around Kadapa, stated that it is unfair for the Opposition leaders to goal them.“During the pandemic, even though offering foodstuff to folks in quarantine, I contracted the virus and endured. We have participated in the federal government outreach programmes right before. We had been handing out pamphlets with Jagan’s picture to beneficiaries, alongside with pensions in January informing them about the hiked amounts. But our likes and dislikes aside, we never operated like YSRCP staff,” said Bukke.
Katikala Obaiah, a 32-yr-previous volunteer in Prakash Nagar in Kadapa city, mentioned that numerous dissatisfied volunteers have resigned and are now “campaigning for the YSRCP brazenly out of vengeance”.Siva Krishna Reddy in Pittalavanipalem village in Bapatla district is 1 of the 44,000-additionally volunteers who have reportedly resigned following the ECI purchase barring them from providing pensions and other perform.A number of, nonetheless, also agree that their range and appointment is a outcome of the point that they are well known Jagan/YSRCP supporters in their respective village/municipality.“So, of study course, we speak in favour of YSRCP, occasionally. But who receives affected by terms? There is no guarantee that a welfare pensioner we converse to will surely vote for Jagan,” reported one particular volunteer to ThePrint on issue of anonymity.
Some pensioners, like B. Venkateswaramma, a 50-yr-previous widow in Muthayapalem around Bapatla, however, admitted that their volunteer past thirty day period prodded her to vote for the YSRCP MP and MLA candidates.
Two ladies, who avail of the old age and widow welfare pensions, in Bapatla district | Photo: Prasad Nichenametla | ThePrint
Is Jagan’s ‘army’ earning the Opposition jittery?
In February, felicitating this year’s awardees, CM Jagan named the volunteers “his youthful sainyam, his star campaigners”, though inquiring them to thwart the TDP and allies’ bogus poll claims. He even applauded them for their efforts in YSRCP victory in numerous bypolls and area body polls given that 2019.The CM has cautioned the volunteers that Naidu would get rid of them if he came to ability to convey back again his “corrupt” Janmabhoomi committees. He continues to mention the army in his election rallies.Jagan has accused TDP chief Naidu of being accountable for the fatalities of around 30 pensioners, who allegedly died mainly because of obtaining to journey and wait around in the severe heat for pension payments, before this month.
Sensing the anger amid the volunteers and the hurt they could do to his poll potential clients, political observers say that Naidu has turned jittery. His ally, Pawan Kalyan, had past 12 months also alleged that some volunteers had been aiding human trafficking networks with details about girls.  So, with the intent of destruction regulate, on the event of Ugadi this yr, the former CM promised to double volunteers’ honorarium to Rs 10,000 for every month, if his bash is voted to electrical power.
Two volunteers in Kadapa city refute allegations of operating as Jagan’s political brokers | Photograph: Prasad Nichenametla | ThePrint
“Naidu, who opposed the volunteer method and cast aspersions on us, is now promising to double the remuneration. We do not believe that him. But it is good to see him realise our value,” Kasi Reddy, who serves 84 homes in Vejendla, explained.In the meantime, YSRCP minister Dharmana Prasada Rao overtly named on the volunteers, who have resigned, to run as complete-time celebration functionaries.
(Edited by Mannat Chugh)
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