Given by the dilly-dallying approach, Kalawati Bandurkar has now officially pulled out of the poll race. Hesitant to enter into poll dalliances, a weary-looking Kalawati, a farm widow, who by now, has become a symbol of agrarian crisis from the Vidarbha’s suicide belt, withdrew her nomination from the Wani assembly constituency on the last day of withdrawal of nominations on Tuesday.
A resident of Jalka village in Yavatmal district, Kalawati (52) went to the office of the sub-divisional officer at Wani, along with her son-in-law, Vasanta Rajurkar on Tuesday morning and withdrew her nomination.
“I filed my nominations because of several farm widows and farm organizations wanted me to contest from Wani to highlight the plight and problems faced by farmers in the region. I am not keeping well and hence I am withdrawing from the elections,” she justified.
However, Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samit that was instrumental for her nomination said that Kalawati had been under tremendous pressure from the Congress and Sulabh International chief Bideshwar Pathak for her decision to contest as a third front candidate. His son-in-law, Rajurkar even had threatened that he would end his life by swallowing pesticide if she contests the elections. The Samiti has now decided to field Babitai Bais of Hiwra village and another farm widow, from Wani. Babitai’s husband, Chhattarsingh Bais had committed suicide by consuming poison in 2007.
“We have decided that this time, a Vidarbha farmer’s widow must be elected to the Assembly. It will be our way of paying tribute to the memory of over 7,000 debt-ridden farmers who had ended their lives in the region since 2001. Of them, around 1,600 farmers had committed suicide in Yavatmal district alone,” Tiwari pointed out.
By fielding a farm widow, the Janandolan Samiti wants to highlights the agrarian crisis in the region, he further said and termed the withdrawal of Kalawati as “unfortunate”
However, Kalawati refuted the allegations that she withdrew from the fray because of political pressure. “This is nonsense. I am not physically well and hence the decision,” she reiterated. After Rahul’s reference to her in the N-deal debate in Parliament, the Yavatmal farm widow was again in the news last week when she had announced her decision to contest the elections against the ruling Congress-NCP coalition.
Her husband Parashuram, a debt-ridden farmer, committed suicide, leaving her to feed nine mouths and repay Rs. 1 lakh loan. But it was this tragedy which brought Rahul Gandhi calling at her doorstep and making an impassioned speech referring to her in the Parliament. Help rushed to her doorstep and it was enough to repay her loan, marry off one daughter and construction of a four room house.