By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, May 9 (IANS): Carrying a load of essentials on her shoulders, holding a couple of bags in the other hand and walking through the rocky terrain, at first sight she looks like a migrant worker, but she is an MLA in Telangana out to help the needy during the ongoing lockdown.
Braving the scorching sun, walking through the forests, crossing rivulets and trekking mountains, Danasari Anasuya is reaching remote tribal villages in her constituency Mulug to provide rice, vegetables and essentials.
Having operated in the same forest as a gun-wielding Maoist rebel in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she is not unfamiliar with the terrain. The only difference, in her own words, is she then had a gun in her hand and now she carries food.
Popular as Seethakka, she is now serving people as a member of the legislative Assembly and is earning praise for her active role in providing succour to the needy during the lockdown.
The tribal MLA, representing the constituency for a second term, believes it is her duty to serve the people. "Serving the people is what gives me happiness. They elected me with a lot of expectations and I just try to live up to those expectations," the MLA, belonging to the opposition Congress, told IANS.
With rice bags, vegetables and other essentials, loaded on a tractor, she sets out for the villages every day. "When the tractor can't move, she rides a bike and where even bike can't go, she walks carrying the bags. "Walking is her passion," said one of her aides.
As most of the villages in her constituency are inaccessible by roads, she walks to reach out to people. Though her constituency has no Covid-19 case, the impoverished people in the area always look for help, and lockdown has only added to their woes.
"Many of them don't have ration cards and hence did not get the free rice from the government. They don't even get fresh vegetables," said Seethakka, who has so far distributed 8,000 kg rice among people in her constituency.
During the last 45 days, she covered 425 out of 640 villages in Mulug and plans to reach out to the remaining villages near the border with Chhattisgarh.
Impressed by her work, people from surrounding constituencies of Pinapaka, Yellendu and Kothagudem have been inviting her to visit their villages. She visited a few villages on Saturday and distributed the aid.
The 48-year-old, who runs Seetakka Foundation, said many individuals in India and even abroad are coming forward with their donations. Even farmers in her constituency are donating rice and vegetables for the relief work.
Before venturing into interior villages, she surrenders her security guards at the nearest police station. "Akka (sister) does not want to put the lives of the gunmen in danger," says her aide. The area was once a stronghold of Maoists and she does not want to take any chances.
The MLA's followers say she is not scared. "She freely moves around in the area. People are with her," said a follower.
Belonging to the Koya tribe, Seethakka joined Maoist movement at an early age and was heading an armed squad active in the same tribal belt. She participated in many gunfights with the police and lost her husband and brother in encounters.
Disillusioned with the movement, she surrendered to the police under a general amnesty plan in 1994. With this the life took a new turn for Seethakka, who pursued her studies and secured a law degree. She also practised as an advocate at a court in Warangal.
She later joined Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and contested from Mulug in 2004 elections. However, facing a Congress wave, she finished a runner-up. However, in 2009 she won the election from the same constituency.
She finished third in 2014 polls and in 2017 quit TDP to join Congress. She made a strong comeback in 2018 by wresting the seat despite the statewide sweep by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)