Maheswarapu Gatayya is the District President of Lok Satta, Warangal. He is the party’s candidate for Parakala constituency in the AP Assembly by-elections of June 2012, and for Bhupalpalli constituency in 2009. He was interviewed by Sravanthi Yalamanchili in May 2012.
Sravanthi: Gattayya garu, why did you decide to join politics?
Gatayya: Prior to my association with Lok Satta, I had an aversion for political parties because of their corrupt and dishonest ways. This is the reason I stayed away even though I had opportunities from traditional parties to join. I came across JP garu and Lok Satta party in 2009. I understood that Lok Satta, unlike traditional parties, does not mislead people. It is a party of good ideologies and is working on putting them to action. This is the reason I joined Lok Satta expecting to change the lives of at least a few people. With the same spirit, I contested in 2009 assembly elections from Bhupalpalli.
Sravanthi: As the President of Lok Satta Party for Warangal District, you had been working on several issues. What is your current project?
Gatayya: We are currently working to empower people by raising awareness and providing legal help for social and environmental issues around Bhupalpalli . I am a lawyer by profession. We formed small volunteer groups comprising of members from Lok Satta Party and few of my colleagues who are also in legal profession to visit villages and provide services irrespective of people’s political alliance and background. We are covering local issues like mining. For example, the AP GENCO of Bhupalpally mines is only 5 km radius. But the effects are spread as much as 20 kms in the neighborhood. People are experiencing a slow poison effect mainly because of the dust pollution from mining. The lands too are becoming infertile. In fact, the mining company was supposed to grow trees in the neighborhood and provide water to the farmers through lift irrigation. Most people are not even aware of this. So, we are trying to empower them and build up momentum to demand their rights. We are also demanding AP GENCO to provide free medical care for the neighboring people who are affected. Another main area where we are working on is cautioning the mining workers about the contract agreements they have signed out of ignorance.
As a part of this awareness campaign, we are also demonstrating the importance of understanding market fluctuations and need for storage facilities to local farmers. A crop like cotton sells for Rs. 3000-4000 a quintal normally . But, if the farmers can store it and sell based on the market fluctuations, they can make more than Rs.7000.
We are receiving good response from people because nobody explains and helps them this way. We are also making every effort to show people what Lok Satta is about and what we had been doing. Take the recent campaign launched by Lok Satta that forced the government to increase MSP for paddy. All we are asking people is to juxtapose our work with the traditional political parties whose only motto is to lure and loot.
Sravanthi: You are contesting from Parakala by-elections which are a few days away. How is your campaign experience so far?
Gatayya: People have immense trust in Lok Satta. I have a decent reputation as a lawyer and have interacted with several groups of locals on various campaigns for Lok Satta since 2009. Because of these reasons, we getting a good response. One of the main aspects of our campaign is to take the message that Lok Satta is not against Telangana to the masses. The traditional political parties are using Telangana sentiment for their personal benefit. As of today, all major parties are supporting a separate state including BJP, TRS, Congress & TDP. Then who is stopping them? Why haven’t we achieved the state of Telangana yet? There is no clarity. Had Lok Satta been in power, we would have settled this issue peacefully.
Sravanthi: How about publicity campaign?
Gatayya:. We have several teams of volunteers led by myself and State level leaders like Raja Reddy, Bandaru Rammohan, Geeta Murthy and Vijayender Reddy touring the villages. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible. We are also doing pamphlet distribution and vehicle campaigns.
Sravanthi: What about funds ?
Gatayya: Funds are definitely a limitation. We can do much better if people can come forward to donate even if it is a small amount.
Sravanthi: What are some future activities in planning?
Gatayya: We are in the process of forming a 200 member group comprising of youth and retired people to identify and solve local issues in Parakala and Bhupalpalli. We will be launching it soon after elections.
Sravanthi: Is there a message you would like to share with our readers?
Gatayya: Money politics is becoming more prevalent day by day. Unfortunately, we have come to a situation where people are accepting bad governance as a way of life. We need citizen empowerment. If we can encourage people to understand the situation and make them an active part of the democracy, they themselves will question the wrong doings of the government and demand answers. So, please put your every effort to bring out this empowerment within yourself and in the society.
Sravanthi: Thanks Gatayya garu, On behalf of People for Lok Satta, I would like to wish you good luck for the upcoming elections.
Gatayya: Thank you.