At last, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu found time on Tuesday to visit his little scenic adopted Adivasi village in the agency area, which lies far removed from the hustle and bustle of civilization, only to encounter uncomfortable questions about unemployment.

 

A tribal woman, not satisfied with the sops Naidu announced on his visit, sidled up to him in trepidation and placed before the VVIP visitor, this small but embarrassing wish.

 

She said the village needs jobs for the youth.

 

"Our boys have no employment. They are roaming in the forests and whiling away the time in the villages. Why don't you get them jobs?" she asked Naidu. 

 

Earlier, a beaming Naidu joined a chorus with tribal girls in a colourful Adivasi dance. He promised the locals that he would build a temple of Lord Balaji.

 

"I will ensure that Tirumala Tirupati Devastanama (TTD) will build a temple around here. I will get you nice roads, drains and a drinking water project," he promised them before being accosted by the tribal woman for jobs.

 

The chief minister, who had no knowledge about how the villagers were living even two years after he ‘adopted’ them, asked if they had LPG connections. When they said, they didn’t, Naidu asked them to take LPG connections first.

 

Two years back, Naidu adopted Pedalabudu panchayat in the picturesque Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district with much fanfare.

 

He said his plan was to develop the tribal Panchayat into a ‘Smart Panchayat’. Not many knew why Naidu zeroed in on this village.

 

It was certainly not the scenic beauty of the village or the simplicity of the tribal people that propelled Naidu to adopt the village. The village is sitting on a treasure trove of bauxite, which the state is planning to exploit.

 

The local Adivasis are completely against the project. Naidu visited the village, almost ten years back, when the then chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy gave the bauxite exploitation rights to Jindal Group and Anrak of Ras Al Khima.

 

Vehemently opposing this project, stating that it would destroy the Araku Valley, considered as the Ooty of Andhra, Naidu, then the opposition leader, conducted a padayatra and expressed solidarity with the tribal people.

 

Now in power, Naidu expectedly wants to use the mineral wealth of the region for the development of the state. So he decided to claim that he ‘adopted’ the village, to win over the people first and then proceed with the more sinister project of bauxite mining.

 

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. The Opposition YSRC is opposing the project. The Congress, also opposed the project, is bringing AICC president Rahul Gandhi to the villages on August 17.

 

Congress alleges that it is Rahul's visit that forced Naidu to hurriedly make a trip to Pedalabudu and shower sops on the unlettered tribals.

 

"Naidu has not scrapped the GO 97 his government issued to facilitate bauxite mining. It was kept in abeyance, as he buckled under pressure from opposition parties," said PCC president Raghuvira Reddy.

 

He said Rahul is visiting the area to stand by the locals in their fight for forest rights on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Forest Right Act, 2006.

 

"We will oppose the bauxite mining by TDP government which is going to destroy ecology of valley and uproot the lakhs of tribals from the area," he said.