Hyderabad: Bandlapalli village, located 50 km from the city of Anantapur, has witnessed an unbelievable transformation in the past 15 years, thanks to the successful implementation of MGNREGS.
The village with lush green crops ranging from banana to sugarcane to flowers looks like an oasis in the dry district which earned the moniker of 'Jaisalmer of Andhra Pradesh'. Bandlapalli has no water source and receives scanty rainfall. Neither a river nor a canal passes through it. For ages, the village has depended on the unpredictable rains.
So, it has been the practice of the people here to migrate to far-off places in search of livelihood for the most part of the year. The local warlords fought with each other to gain control over whatever resources available in the village. Massacres took place. Blood spilled on the streets of the village. Merciless killings and migrations for livelihood has haunted the village.
But that's all history now.
By harnessing the low-cost rainwater harvesting technologies, the village has conserved every drop of water that flowed down the hillocks surrounding it. Though the path to prosperity was laid clearly on the day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in the company of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, inaugurated the MGNREGS in February 2006, many in the village said the ground was prepared for the transformation some time back by none other than Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, now the Chief Minister of Telangana.
He was the transport minister of the state during the TDP regime. Every villager remembers how KCR took a special interest in the development of the village. They admit without hesitation that KCR tried hard to put an end to the murderous factional fights in the village.
Villagers accord high respect to the TRS president. "KCR visited our village three times. I did not know why he was so keen to reform the village. He was against the factional fights. He whole-heartedly worked to bring the rival factions together and achieve his objective. It was the beginning of an era of peace and law and order in the village," recalled Virasiva Reddy, a villager.
According to Virasiva Reddy, KCR's efforts helped the villagers realize the futility of village factions.
Sarpanch Venkatanarayanamma vividly recalls how her husband fell victim to the murderous politics of the village on 'Eighth-month Eighth day of 1986'. "It was on this day my husband was brutally murdered by the rival faction. This destroyed my family and my life. Like me, many families lost their bread earners due to the village fights. KCR tried to eradicate this by visiting the village three times," she recalled.
At that time the village had no bus connectivity. There was no road either. The villagers had been requesting a road for years.
"KCR visited the village around this time and instantly recognized the importance of building a road. He put a condition that all villagers must come together forgetting factions and politics. He promised that he would lay a road and start bus services if the village becomes peaceful. He said it during his first visit," the sarpanch added.
As per the promise, by the time KCR visited the village the next time, the road was laid. He inaugurated the bus service with great fanfare, a landmark event for the village.
Pointing at the village platform, the sarpanch said, "KCR sat on this platform and addressed the villagers assuring all help for the village development. He went around the village talking to villagers."
She added, "In his third visit, KCR organized a lunch to bring the warring faction leaders together. It was a successful gathering. Every villager, irrespective of the party, participated. This put an end to the local rivalries. After that, there were no quarrels and bloodshed in the village. What we having right now is the electoral fight."
KCR, who was then the road transport minister, was appointed in-charge minister of the district. Everybody loves KCR for the pains he took to transform the village ravaged by local factions. However, Venkata Narayanamma and other villagers are unhappy that KCR took away Hyderabad along with Telangana. "It was unfair to divide the state. We don't accept the division," many opine without any inhibition.
Curiously, the political foundation laid by KCR and other leaders in the 1980s in the village is still intact. The village is still considered a TDP stronghold in this locality.