india

Panabaka does ‘chai pe charcha’, blames BJP, YSRCP for price rise

The ruling parties are imposing taxes on fuel, she alleges, and calls for bringing it under GST

Former Union Minister Panabaka Lakshmi has adopted novel ways to draw the attention of the voters during her campaign for the Tirupati Lok Sabha byelection at Manubolu village in Nellore district, which comprises four Assembly segments of Sarvepalli, Gudur, Sullurpet and Venkatagiri.

The TDP candidate herself prepared tea and distributed it among a group of voters, and picked up a conversation with them as to how they were able to manage their household expenses.

She also prepared hot ‘mirapakaya bajji’, the most popular snack in these parts, and tried to drive home the point that the “ruling BJP at the Centre and the YSRCP in the State made the lives of the common people miserable.”

As she served piping hot tea, the assembled gathering replied that they were finding it difficult to make ends meet in the wake of skyrocketing prices of not only petrol and diesel but also edible oil.

The former Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas told them that the BJP-led government at the Centre and the YSRCP government in the State were competing with each other in imposing heavy dose of taxes on fuel.

“This approach is responsible for the increase in prices of all essential commodities,” Ms. Lakshmi reasoned.

Ms. Lakshmi was accompanied by former Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy during the campaign.

Fuel should be brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime it they were to be available for a reasonable price, she said during an interaction with a group of bus passengers, who had opted to take the public transport instead of their motorcycles of late.

The gathering nodded their heads in approval, and also referred to the cooking gas going out of their reach now.

“The subsidy borne by the government has been phased out by the BJP-led government at the Centre,” Ms. Lakshmi said, and recalled that she, as a Union Minister, had tried her best to ensure provision of cooking gas to all the BPL women with the Centre bearing huge subsidy. The aim was to put an end to the respiratory diseases associated with using fire wood for cooking.

‘Privatisation spree’

Picking holes in the BJP government’s privatisation policy, Ms. Lakshmi said the reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would become irrelevant as the “indiscriminate PSU privatisation spree” was only to benefit the corporate firms.

She said the TDP had constituted committees at the booth level to allay the fears of the voters, who were being threatened allegedly by the village / ward volunteers that they would lose the benefits of welfare schemes if they did not vote for the ruling party.

The Election Commission should create a conducive atmosphere at the grassroots for the people to vote without fear or favour. “By resorting to intimidation, the YSRCP could win the recent local body elections,” she alleged.

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