Congress ex-MLA now a labourer
25 Mar 2009, G Arun Kumar & Siva G, TNN
SRIKAKULAM: She was a member of the AP Legislative Assembly representing the Congress from Patapatnam (SC) constituency between 1972-77. But that was then. Today, she is a daily wage labourer who earns Rs 60 per day to make both ends meet.
“We have a little land, but in the off-season, my husband and I have to work as labourers to make both ends meet. Life comes at a price these days,” rues the sprightly 64-year-old Sukka Pagadaalu as she lifts heaps of mud on her head at a construction site in her native Mukthapuram village in Srikakulam district in north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
This is one of the most backward parts of the state, barely 5 kms from the Orissa border and an area infested with Maoists.
As an ex-legislator, Sukka gets a pension but that is not enough — the family having incurred heavy debts to marry three daughters. The dalit woman now lives in a thatched hut — that leaks during rainy season — unlike the plush pads and comfy, breezy environs that present-day legislators and public representatives are used to live in.
Ironically, Sukka served as a village sarpanch too after she lost the elections from Palakonda constituency in Srikakulam in 1978 on the Congress ticket. But Sukka still vouches for Congress. “I was one among 33 women legislators elected to the assembly in 1972,” she recalls. She holds former PM Indira Gandhi in high esteem. Displaying a picture of hers with Indira Gandhi, she says: “Leaders in those days were selfless. The current lot only crave for power, moolah and riches.”
Curiously, the Patapatnam constituency from where she was elected was reserved only during 1967 and 1972 polls and later it was made general seat. This time around, the Congress candidate from the seat is Andhra Pradesh’s forests minister Satrucharla Vijayaramaraju. Sukka recalls that Satrucharla came to her village a few months ago.
“I showed him our leaky roof and asked for help. He promised to have a slab put. I went to meet him a few times after that but neither has he come back nor has the slab,” the former MLA said.
Former Congress MLA Sukka Pagadaalu and her husband Sukka Dasu work at a construction site. (TOI Photo)