Why citizens are flocking to LDF govt’s Nava Kerala Sadas venues with petitions

Most petitioners TNM spoke to had concerns ranging from housing woes to medical aid for relatives, improved drinking water facilities, and access to education.
Nava Kerala Sadas
Nava Kerala SadasPinarayi Vijayan/Facebook page
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The Kongad bus stand in Palakkad, despite the scorching midday heat, transformed into a sea of humanity on December 2, as citizens from various corners of the Assembly constituency gathered for the Nava Kerala Sadas, a massive outreach initiative by Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government.

It was Day 15 of the 36-day programme in which the entire Cabinet is travelling aboard a customised bus to attend political outreach meetings that double up as cultural festivals and grievance redressal adalats. The Opposition in Kerala has flayed the programme as constituency-level political campaigning by the ruling party at the expense of government money at a time it is strained by poor finances.

One among the attendees of the Kongad Sadas was Jothi, a 45-year-old Anganwadi helper from Thenoor, who came to submit her plea for a house and a ration card. Her story was similar to that of hundreds of ordinary citizens who are finding comfort in Nava Kerala Sadas, which is not just a political event for them.

"My husband battles mental health issues and my daughter is in Class 10. Shouldering the responsibility of being the sole provider for my family, the prospect of meeting day-to-day expenses is daunting, let alone dreaming of owning a house. My husband, who is 52, also requires a pension, a plea I've included in my petition," said Jothi.

For 20 years, Seetha, now a 48-year-old, had been giving applications in the panchayat for help to build a house. Currently, she lives in a small shed in Thenoor and dreams of a secured house. Seetha and her 24-year-old son work daily wage jobs. “We have a plot but cannot afford to build a house. It has been 20 years since I dreamed of a house and this is my last hope," Seetha said after submitting the petition.

Saithali, a 61-year-old man from Ottapalam constituency, gave a petition for treatment assistance for his wife on December 1. “She has been bedridden for six years and urgently needs to undergo a knee transplantation surgery. I am the only breadwinner in the family, my kids are still studying. We cannot afford the surgery and I am hoping that the government will help us,” Saithali said.

Sudheer, who earns his livelihood by selling lottery tickets in Lakkidi and has disabilities, had applied for a house under the Life Mission scheme but was turned down. He also faced difficulties in obtaining a loan from banks. Sudheer attended the Sadas since it was his only way out. “My wife works as a cook in a private school. We have two daughters. I can’t afford to build a house. This is my only hope now,” Sudheer said.

Rasiya and Balkis came to give an application for a water connection to their house near Mayannur in East Ottapalam. “We need to cross a railway line to collect water in pots from another house. It is hard for us in the summer as 40 to 50 pots are needed every day. Municipality denied us water connection because there are only six houses in the area,” said Rasiya. It was also dangerous to cross the railway line every time, she added.

Kalyani from Pookkattukavu wanted a vehicle for her husband who became disabled 30 years ago after an accident. “He had a vehicle 18 years back, but it is unusable now. If he can get a vehicle, it would be immensely helpful for us,” Kalyani said.

Most petitioners TNM spoke to had concerns ranging from housing woes to urgent pleas for medical aid, improved drinking water facilities, and access to education. While some wanted to change their ration cards from APL to BPL, others sought insurance money for animals that have fallen ill and died. Some even needed help for account statements from the cooperative bank.

But Balakrishnan, a resident of Challikkal in Kongad, wanted the government's help to clean two ponds in the locality, a public cause.

“Local residents depend on two ponds – Aarattukulam and Kaikkulam – for bathing and laundry. The government provides funds for restoration of ponds, so I expect my petition would be considered,” said 67-year-old Balakrishnan.

Nava Kerala Sadas covered 12 Assembly constituencies in Palakkad within three days from December 1 to 3.

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