Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday urged the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government to expedite assessment of crops damaged by untimely rain in Madhya Pradesh and release compensation to the affected farmers "without discrimination".
About half-a-dozen farmers had committed suicide in the state after their crops were damaged by the rain. The damage had affected nearly four lakh farmers of more than 3,000 villages, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said recently.
On Thursday, Sonia Gandhi travelled more than 60 kilometres by road, walked to farmers’ fields in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh and listened to their grievances.
At one of the villages at Madawada, 30 kilometres from Neemuch and close to Rajasthan border, she walked half a kilometre to see farmers' fields, talked to them and asked, "Did anybody estimate your loss? Did you get any compensation?"
She assured them of fighting for their cause after she received a reply in the negative.
The Congress president, who spent four hours visiting the villages, said, "I hope that Modi government at the Centre and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state don't show any discrimination in the payment of compensation. Farmers complained to me that the survey of crop damage had been carried out in a haphazard manner. I explained to them that we are not in the government but will fight for their cause."
Observers feel that the Congress president’s visit was a well thought out plan to corner the Chouhan government. The Congress has been raking up the compensation issue in the assembly for past couple of days.
Some political observers see it as the Congress' last ditch efforts to revive the party presence in this traditional Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bastion and brush up its image in the Malwa region.