Hyderabad: Rahul Gandhi would undertake a 'padayatra' in Andhra Pradesh's drought-hit Anantapur district on Friday, setting off from a village where Indira Gandhi addressed a meeting in 1979, to highlight the issues faced by farmers and women self-help groups.
The Congress vice-president, who reached out to farmers during similar visits and foot marches in states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and more recently Rajasthan, would kick off his 'padayatra' from Obuladevara Cheruvu village and enroute interact with farmers, weavers and students.
He would garland the statues of Dr B R Ambedkar and late AP Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, party leaders said.
Ruling TDP in the state and YSR Congress, however, hit out at the Rahul, blaming the Congress for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the "gross injustice" to Semandhra.
Rahul will hold meetings with NREGA workers, migrant labourers at different villages in Anantapur, which is among the districts that receive low rainfall in the country. He is also scheduled to meet the family of farmer Harinath Reddy who allegedly committed suicide.
After the 'padayatra' ends, he would receive representations from people and also talk to senior Congress leaders at Puttaparti, the spiritual town of late Satya Sai Baba.
He would visit the 'Maha Samadhi' of Satya Sai Baba at Puttaparti before wrapping up his visit, according to the tour schedule released by the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee.
"He would walk for ten kilometres. In fact, (Rahul's grandmother) Indira Gandhi had addressed a meeting at the village in 1979. There would be three-four interactions with students, farmers and self-help group women," APCC president N Raghuveera Reddy said.
Asked about the "big message" Rahul would convey during the visit, Reddy said it would revolve around rural distress, dilution of NREGA and farmers' woes and alleged that the ruling TDP in the state made false promise to SHG women.
Rahul would also highlight the need for according special category status to Andhra Pradesh, completion of Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project and implementation of special package for backward Rayalaseema districts.
Rahul undertook a 'padayatra' in Telangana in May this year during which he hit out at the NDA government at the Centre and TRS government in Telangana on farmers' and land issues.
Meanwhile, YSR Congress said Rahul's visit to console families of farmers who committed suicide was "ridiculous" as it had worked hand-in-hand with ruling TDP.
It also took objection to Rahul paying homage to late Rajasekhara Reddy, alleging that Congress "worked in tandem with TDP in harassing his family members by foisting false cases against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy."
YSR Congress is headed by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late Rajasekhara Reddy. Jagan formed the party after breaking away from the Congress.
"Rahul Gandhi's visit to Andhra Pradesh to console the family of farmers who committed suicide is ridiculous as Congress has worked hand-in-hand with TDP right from the death of YSR till the division of the state and even after," party spokesperson Vasireddy Padma said.
Congress has played a crucial role in the division of the state and also helped TDP in many aspects, she alleged.
"When YSR family members sought permission to carry out the Odarpu Yatra, it was denied and they were insulted by the high command and when YS Jagan Mohan Reddy came out of the party he and his family members were harassed and false cases were foisted. This apart, the high command has seen to it that the name of YSR was included in the FIR. How can such a party pay homage to YSR now," she said.
"After Congress drew a blank in the election, now Rahul Gandhi trying to invoke YSR is a shameful act," she added.
Hitting out at Congress for the "gross injustice" done to Seemandhra in bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh last year and the ongoing tour of Jagan Mohan Reddy in Anantapur district, the ruling TDP asked why the two leaders did not take up 'yatras' when large number of farmers allegedly committed suicide during Rajasekhara Reddy's rule.
"Farmers' suicides are very low in Andhra Pradesh now as per the data of National Crime Bureau. Nearly 14,000 farmers committed suicide during the YS Rajasekhara Reddy regime. Why Rahul Gandhi and Jagan did not take up yatras then?" TDP MLC G Muddukrishnama Naidu asked.
"It is meaningless to conduct yatra when farmers are happy with the state government implementing loan waiver for farmers and providing seven hour power supply and fertilisers adequately," Naidu added. (PTI)