In the six-kilometre radius around Shantipuram Mandal, around 15 kilometers from the town of Kuppam, agriculture has largely become adherent with the use of modern agricultural tools like drip irrigation equipment and greenhouses.
Kuppam’s transformation, which Chandrababu Naidu can be credited for, may be seen as the fruit of the TDP chief’s admiration for the town’s improvisation in times of necessity.
When Naidu was in power, a project was initiated to maximise the use of the town’s scarce water resources to increase agricultural productivity. The project, however, lost impetus when he was defeated by the Congress, which dismissed it as a daydream.
“We get up to 70 per cent subsidy for microirrigation equipment. Initially, many farmers shifted to drip, but lack of water made many of us quit the new model. Now, few farmers are using drip pipes to cultivate vegetables like cabbage and they are doing well,” said Manjunath, a farmer who now works for a contractor.
The Shantipuram area has been using rain water harvesting methods to slow down surface run off, like building bunds and growing crops on the edges to stop erosion.
However, Naidu’s parallel efforts to create local employment opportunities seems to have gone in vain, with the town’s youth turning to nearby Bangalore or Chennai to hunt for jobs.
Kuppam has a medical college and a few engineering colleges. “I got a job in Bangalore and have come back to pick few of my certificates,” said Sravanthi, a B.Tech girl student native to Kuppam. She said she would definitely come back to the town to vote on May 7, but refused to divulge which party she would vote for.
Nagaraj, a B.Com student, however, seems to be bent on voting for the YSR Congress. “I think Jagan (the YSR Congress chief) understands the youth and their needs better.”
This student, too, has decided to look towards Bangalore for employment. “The development Naidu has done here is for the rich, not for us. With my degree, I won’t get a job in Bangalore, but I will have to go there and try my luck,” Nagaraj said.
Naidu, who is born on Kuppam’s soil, has won this Assembly segment five times in a row since 1989. The TDP chief sending his son Lokesh to file nomination papers on his behalf is a testimony to his confidence in emerging victorious these elections. Lokesh urged the people to bring his father back to power to enable the reconstruction of the state’s derailing economy and return the town of Kuppam to its former glory.
Even though Naidu joined active politics in 1978, it was in 1983 that he joined the TDP and became chairman of the Karshaka Parishat, a post equivalent to that of one in the Cabinet, which was created by his late father-in-law N T Rama Rao.
Naidu’s three-time opponent M Subramanya Reddy of the Congress, who has now joined the YSR Congress, is acting as coordinator for V Chandramouli, a 1984-batch IAS officer who the TDP chief is contesting against for the first time.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s sister Sharmila took on the role of campaigning for him here on Sunday. Jagan hopes to attain victory through sympathetic votes towards the YSR Congress family.