A day after Andhra Pradesh's ruling Congress held its state conclave to begin preparations for 2014 elections, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Monday faces people's ire over various problems faced by them.
On the first day of his three-day 'Indiramma Baata' programme in this coastal city, the chief minister was confronted a group of women, who vent their ire over price rise, reduction in number of subsidized cooking gas cylinders and the electricity shortage.
Visakhapatnam is the 11th district being covered by the chief minister under his pet programme 'Indiramma Baata', which is aimed at interacting with people to know if the benefits of various welfare and development schemes are reaching them.
Some housewives told the chief minister that they don't require rice which is being supplied to them through public distribution at one rupee per kilogram, pointing out that its quality is so poor that it is not fit for consumption. They instead wanted the chief minister to bring down prices of essential commodities in open market.
The women also complained that reduction in the number of subsidized cooking gas cylinders to six a year was adding to their problems. They also voiced their protest over frequent power cuts.
The chief minister tried to pacify them and assured them that the government would address their concerns. He told them that the very purpose of his visit is to bring administration at the doorsteps of the people.
"Like a man who remembers God in times of distress, the people of this state remember the government when they face problems," he said.
Kiran Kumar Reddy, who laid foundation stone of a drinking water project for the urban areas of Visakhapatnam, later interacted with members of women's Self-Help Groups (SHGs). He said with 30 lakh SHG members, the state is leading the country in women's empowerment.
The chief minister said the government would be providing interest free loans to the tune of Rs.13,500 crore to SHG members during the current financial year. He also announced that the women would also be provided interest free personal loans of up to Rs.25,000.
He also declared that women would be provided 50 percent reservation in local body elections and this would come into effect from coming elections.
With the passing of a bill to provide statutory status to scheduled castes and scheduled tribe sub-plan, an additional Rs.3,500 crore to Rs.4,000 crore would be available in the budget for the welfare of these sections of society, the chief minister said.