Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The colony of cooks-4:1994-2007

By this rime I was a full activist for TDP. I was also taking part in various agitations and movements from earlier times. Earlier from the eighties when I was with the Communist Party, there was a fight to get fishermen the right to sell their produce in the market without interference from a contractor, various women’s movements, and also a movement to get fair prices for milk producers where I was hurt in a lathicharge. Now there were movements like protest against indecency (asleela vyatirekodyamam), Consumer’s movement (viniyogagadarula udyamam), literature type activities, protests against liquor consumption in illegal outlets ( belts shops).
This was towards the end of 1994 after.we won the case in the municipal court. At this juncture, the assembly elections took place. We in the cooks colony campaigned for TDP and one Eedara Haribabu  became the MLA as TDP candidate. Some of the TDP candidates also became members of the Municipal Committee ex officio  and the balance in the committee shifted in the favour of TDP. We were expecting more good things to happen when I got a shock in the form of a call from the Munkcipal Chairman who belonged to the Congress Party. He said though he was from a different party, he did not want to appeal the Municipal Court decision in favour of the poor people but the current MLA Haribabu wanted to appeal in the District (Zilla) Court. I was furious and dashed off on my scooter to confront the MLA. My younger friends Gangadhar and Lakhminarayana tried in vain to prevent me and followed me on their vehicles. By the time I reached the Municipal office, the. lA already left the place. By that time Gangadhar and Lakshminarayana caught up with and physically prevented me from proceeding any further. This was early 1995 and I am still not sure what I would have done if I had caught up with the MLA. In any case, the  MLA helped us later with the sanction of a boring well to the colony.
During this period, I was also caught up with various administrative positions with TDP. I also developed as a speaker, singer, poet. Possibly, NTR bestowing attention on me on three different occasions ( once as a speaker, once as a singer and once as an anti liquor agitator)by garlanding me might have helped in improving my image in the public. And C.B. Naidu too appreciated my work and sanctioned the administrative positions I held. I was a member of the Price Monitoring Committee from 1995-98, Jury Member for Nandi awards from 1996-1998, a director of the Mineral Development corporation from 1998-2000 and Regional Organiser (RO) for Women Welfare and Child Development Department from 2000-2005.
But my commitment to the colony continued, and I actually lived in the colony from 1997-2004 running the Short Stay Home whereas my husband Balakrishna lived with the children in our own house since he felt that both of us living in the colony may seem like we got the place for ourselves. During this period, the Short Stay Home also became a hub of activity for women activists and it was not uncommon to see 10-15 of them there on a given day and discussing various issues. They also helped us with our colony problems. Some of the Dalit women leaders probably cut their teeth during that time. These include Betapudi Rajeswari, ,G.Mary Ratnakumari and others. And some of the women in the colony also developed in to leadership roles.
During this time, we also started a Dpep(?) school for children, these were not regular schools but schools run by volunteers with encouragement from the government. Even children from outside the colony attended our school. The youth in the colony helped with various tasks like digging a big hole for a step well storage tank, making reasonable earthen roads etc. Some of the younger people who helped were Ravi, Shyam,Siva, Venkaiah and even younger people like Jagadish, Suresh, Raja, Kishore, Subbarao and others. We also collected the evidence needed for the court, gathered finances for the case, Karavadi Raghavarao continued to argue ably for us. Dr. A.P. Vithal continued to encourage us and provided financial support. He also treated the children living in unhealthy and conditions of malnutrition. Many other contacts that we made during the political processes possibly helped our profile. Finally, we won the Zilla Court too. This was around 2004-2005. We also got back some of the land we lost with the help of Mantri Sreenivasarao. Some people who gave up hope and left came back. We also facilitated Pushpamba who proved to be an excellent witness on our behalf. For some unknown reason Pushpamba, a graceful old lady committed suicide later, just leaving a note that she was taking her own life.
At this stage, despite my protests, the colony was named as Aruna Colony my many and a board was put up with that name. But trouble was brewing. Some of the people who became leaders during the struggle felt this as a threat to their leadership. They colluded with a lady councillor in the municipality and removed the board. I already moved back to my home, husband and children in 2004. I felt that it was time to move on for good from the colony. Around 2007, I left to the colony the Short Stay Home I built in honour of mother Tella Narayanamma, and made it in to a committee Hall. I thought that it was the end of my Association with the colony of cooks. But it was not be. The rest, next time.

P.S. There was a hiccup in posting from India after the previous post. Many of the next few appeared on Facebook. 

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