Interview with Sudhakar: on Faction Fights in Kurnool
Duration: 00:08:46; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 251.786; Saturation: 0.025; Lightness: 0.464; Volume: 0.352; Cuts per Minute: 15.040; Words per Minute: 102.661
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
INTERVIEWER: Please tell us your name, sir.
Sudhakar: My name is Sudhakar.
INTERVIEWER: You work with the MUF?
Sudhakar: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: Where're you from?
INTERVIEWER: We've just come from Pallethilli. There we spoke with Aiyappa Reddy and his son for a long time. Can you tell us a bit about him and family?
Sudhakar: Theirs is a political family. Factionists. There’s nobody who'll stand up to them. If there is any competition or if anyone dares stand up to them, then they get together a group of people to persuade them or get them exiled or separated from the rest of the village. They used to pass rulings like that. It happened a lot in the past and there were rivalries because of this. He lost one of his sons in a faction clash because of this. In the same clash a few other SC families were also wiped out.
INTERVIEWER: You mean the people who killed his son...?
Sudhakar: Yes, they left the village.
INTERVIEWER: Did they kill anyone in response to his son's death?
Sudhakar: Yes, but I can't talk about it.
INTERVIEWER: When we asked the elder Reddy, he said he's an ordinary farmer and does nothing apart from agriculture.
Sudhakar: He would've said that...
INTERVIEWER: He said his brother works as a contractor and is the village president now. What's his name?
Sudhakar: Lakshmana Reddy. He's our Sarpanch at present.
INTERVIEWER: Does Aiyyappa Reddy lend money?
Sudhakar: Yes he does, on interest.
INTERVIEWER: How much interest?
Sudhakar: 2 rupees interest.
INTERVIEWER: How long has this money lending business been running?
Sudhakar: For a long time... Since they're a wealthy family, they've always lent money to poor people when they needed it, for treatments, for the farms.
INTERVIEWER: At the moment, is there anyone locally who is against him?
Sudhakar: Hariramakrishna Reddy.
INTERVIEWER: Which party does he belong to?
Sudhakar: He supports Telugu Desam party, but whoever Aiyyappa Reddy supports he always opposes them.
INTERVIEWER: Isn't he also Telugu Desam?
Sudhakar: Aiyyappa Reddy first was with the Congress then he shifted to the Telugu Desam. Then he moved to Praja Rajyam and now to YSR (Congress).
INTERVIEWER: So as soon as he left Telugu Desam, Ramakrishna Reddy joined Telugu Desam, did he?
Sudhakar: Yes sir.
INTERVIEWER: Who supports Ramakrishna Reddy?
Sudhakar: Yedigeri Rama Pullareddy. But he doesn't directly support him but supports those who are at higher levels than him...
INTERVIEWER: Who's at a higher level?
Sudhakar: From Telugu Desam, Kovilakonda Karra Subbareddy...
INTERVIEWER: Wasn't he with Karra Subbareddy before?
Sudhakar: He was.
INTERVIEWER: Why did he shift then?
Sudhakar: It depends on how the higher leaders change. Whichever way Bhoomanagareddy shifts they go that way. Gangulapratap Reddy also shifted to the Congress so these people too changed. Approximately there are some 15 villages under his control. They all listen to him.
INTERVIEWER: Who? Bhoomanagareddy?
Sudhakar: Yes, the orders filter down from Bhoomanagareddy.
INTERVIEWER: You said that Ramakrishnareddy is a supporter of Karra Subbareddy. Karra Subbareddy is now dead but before he died he was with Congress. So now who is Ramakrishnareddy's support?
Sudhakar: Nobody really supports him. He's actually with Pulla Reddy only now, he's garnering his support.
INTERVIEWER: Does every village have a faction leader here?
Sudhakar: Yes sir. Every village has 2-3... In Velawada an invisible leader who holds everyone's reigns is Pochi Bhimanna Reddy. Like him there was Bhooreddy who was with TDP but then moved to YSR (Congress). There's another person called Venkatesareddy with TDP. Now if you bring all these people together, it's one party. They've all been with the 3 parties- Congress, TDP and YSR (Congress) now they've all come together.
INTERVIEWER: In Kurnool, in this particular region, apart from the Reddys, which caste has the strongest faction?
Sudhakar: Apart from the Reddys, there're the Boyas. Also some regions have the SCs.
INTERVIEWER: What level have they reached? Have any of these people come close to being Village president, MPP?
Sudhakar: Before, the SC’s didn't have the concept of village presidency. When these people moved up the ladder, the SCs’ started coming to the Sarpanch level. Even if the Sarpanch was an SC, the Reddys still have an upper hand and decision making rights. Now, they have realised the importance of self governance and now have come to refuse their support and doing it themselves.
INTERVIEWER: In the SC community, who is the majority? Mala or Madiga?
Sudhakar: Malas, although the Madigas also have power but lesser.
INTERVIEWER: In which village have the SCs rejected the Reddy support and dominated the vote?
Sudhakar: Donnipada, sir. The Sarpanch is SC, who takes care of everything. His name is Srinivas.
INTERVIEWER: With the factionist politics, have there been other changes at the village level?
Sudhakar: Earlier because of the indiscriminate killings, there were police cases, and lot of money used to be spent and wasted. So everyone realised if it went on like this nobody would benefit. The elders called a Panchayat meeting and talked about how we should stick together and only because of the political voting divide; we are being pitted against each other.
So when the elections are going on, they fight and as soon as the elections are done, they become one. The smaller groups and the people saw the pattern and realised how only for the votes the leaders are pitting their groups against each other. Earlier nobody paid for votes, now they do.
INTERVIEWER: How much?
Sudhakar: 800 to 900 rupees for each vote.
INTERVIEWER: MLA Election?
Sudhakar: Yes. This has started for the Sarpanch election also. If the Sarpanch is on one side, then automatically the MLA also will be of the same side. That's the agenda.