Rajakas for 48-hour long hunger strike seeking SC status

Dara GopiA�

Amaravati: The Rajakas, washermen, from the State are getting ready for the 48-hour long hunger strike in Vijayawada asking Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to fulfill his election promise of including them in the Scheduled Castes list.

Andhra Pradesh State Rajaka Sanghala Ikyavedika president Pathapati Anji Babu, who is spearheading the movement seeking SC status for them, announced here that the 48-hour long hunger strike would start onA�February 27. He said that Chief Minister and the Telugu Desam national president Chandrababu Naidu had promised to extend SC status for the washermen community during the 2014 elections. The TDP had also included the promise in the election manifesto, he said. However, though the TDP is completing three years in power in the State after the 2014 elections, the party had not made any attempt to fulfill the poll promise, he regretted.

Anji Babu said that there are over 60,000 Rajakas across the State with over 40,000 votes spread over the 175 Assembly constituencies. The ruling parties were using the community as vote bank but have done nothing for the community in the last 60 years, he alleged. He blamed the TDP for ignoring the promise that was made to them in the last elections. a�?We have rallied firmly behind the TDP during 2014 elections as the party promised to give us SC status. But, three years in office, the party did nothing,a�? Anji Babu said. He further added that their proposed 48-hour long hunger strike was a reminder to Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and the ruling TDP leadership to fulfill the election promise.

The Rajaka leader said that the community has been living on washing clothes for centuries. They have no proper houses in the villages and no water sources to wash the clothes. The State government had failed to give them the houses under NTR Housing Scheme in the last three years, he alleged. The washermen in several villages were facing the problems like social boycott and are not respected. The government was not reacting to any of their requests, he regretted.

Anji Babu said that the government had allocated Rs 32 crore to the Rajakas in the State in the last budget and had spent just Rs 2 crore all through the year. As the financial year is coming to an end in March, the Rs 30 crore would lapse and remain a promise, he said. He found fault with the government for releasing Rs 25,000 to each Rajaka as subsidy while the banks were to give another Rs 25,000 as matching grant. He regretted that none of these banks were giving the money. In most of the cases, the banks were only releasing the subsidy part of the money, while taking repayment for Rs 50,000 claiming to have given the total loan, he alleged. He also alleged that the bank officials and the middle men were charging a minimum of Rs 5,000 from each applicant to release the loan.

He said that the 48-hour long dharna would highlight these issues and mount pressure on the government to fulfill its election promise by giving SC status to the community.

Association leaders Kundeti Venkateswara Rao, Kallepalli Srinivasa Rao, Sathenapalli Srinivasa Rao, Vukoti Seshagiri Rao and others were present.

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