Anna canteens turn into big political issue in AP

VIJAYAWADA: Opposition Telugu Desam that continuously holds protests and agitations in AP against the YSRC government for the past three years is now concentrating its attention on the Anna canteen issue so as to also derive political mileage for the coming elections.

TD leaders are planning to start Anna canteens in all assembly segments to win the support of the masses. Local party leaders are competing with each other to start Anna canteens. The ruling YSR Congress opposes the occupying of roadsides by TD in the name of Anna canteens, saying this is causing inconvenience to the public. Clashes between YSRC and TD activists were reported from some areas and this has turned into a big issue in the state.

TD chief N Chandrababu Naidu had promised to start Anna canteens all over the state during the 2014 elections but he forgot about this after winning the elections. However, the TD government started these canteens a year before its term ended. Even in 2018 too, only 600 canteens were opened across the state. In each of these, food was offered to nearly 200-300 people per day at `5 per plate.

YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna had started a Rajanna canteen in Mangalagiri in 2017, offering food for `4, which got a good response and several other YSRC leaders later started similar canteens to attract the masses. Now, the Opposition TD is also operating Anna canteens offering food for `5 and conducting a negative campaign against YSRC government for stopping the TD’s welfare schemes.

TD started an Anna canteen in Mangalagiri where Nara Lokesh fought the 2019 elections, amidst ruckuses under which the tents of Anna canteens were removed twice. A similar incident occurred in Kuppam the home segment of Chandrababu Naidu where TD alleged damaging of canteen tents by YSRC activists. Following this, Naidu squatted on the road in a protest action.

Another ruckus regarding Anna canteen occurred on the main road in Tenali amid refusal of police permission. The YSRC then tried to organise competitive canteens and the police stopped both parties from operating canteens on the road.

Former minister and TD leader Nakka Ananda affirmed that TD will not flinch from starting Anna canteens all over the state to feed the poor and will restart Anna canteens after winning the next elections.

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