Unfortunate. That is what the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, an activist group working for distressed cotton farmers of Vidarbha, has termed the re-induction of Sharad Pawar as Union Minister for Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies.
Samiti President Kishore Tiwari said in a press release that Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has been rejected not only by Vidarbha and Marathwada’s cotton farmers but also by sugarcane farmers in western Maharashtra, which is supposed to be the agriculture minister’s bastion.
In the recent Lok Sabha polls, the NCP-Congress combine did not win a single seat in western Vidarbha where farm suicides top political and social agenda.
The partners had fielded two candidates each there.
In Marathwada, NCP was shown exit doors everywhere except Osmanabad.
In its traditional stronghold western Maharashtra, the NCP failed in garnering expected numbers and as a result, it finished with a mere eight members of Parliament from the state.
Tiwari blamed NCP’s poor performance and farm suicides on Pawar.
“Pawar was too busy in cricket to visit Vidarbha where over 10,000 farmers committed suicide over the last five years,” Tiwari said.
“Pawar’s keen interest in cricket events such as Indian Premier League and politics of national and international cricket boards was reported by international media like Asia Times in February 2009.”
Tiwari added: “The Centre’s lackadaisical approach to agricultural problems was best exemplified in Pawar finding time to be BCCI president who travels frequently abroad to see cricket matches.”
“It might have been cause for a scandal in some other countries but not yet in India,” he added.
The activist said the country needed more proactive and non-corrupt minister to head the Civil Supplies Ministry because a massive scam in wheat import was reported during Pawar’s earlier stint.