Targetting the Congress-led government in general and the Congress youth icon Rahul Gandhi in particular for not "giving" the Yavatmal farm widow Kalawati Bandurkar anything, the BJP chief Nitin Gadkari on Monday offered a financial help of Rs one lakh to her.
Addressing a farmers’ rally at Bela, some 50 km from Nagpur, Gadkari said Rahul had visited Kalawati but no monetary assistance was extended to her.
Her husband Parshuram had committed suicide on December 23, 2005 because of agrarian crisis and then her son-in-law, Sanjay Kalaskar (25), a marginal farmer, who was also an auto driver, committed suicide in December last year. Crops on Kalaskar’s 4.5 acres farm suffered badly due to untimely rains. He was crestfallen and failed to repay the loan borrowed from banks for farming and purchasing the auto rickshaw.
Last month, another death rattled Kalawati. Her second daughter, Savita Khamankar (27), who lived in Radegaon near Warora in Chandrapur district, committed suicide by setting herself afire. Savita sustained over 85 burn injuries and died at a government run hospital in Chandrapur on September 26.
“I am providing her a financial help of Rs onelakh as social responsibility,” said Gadkari while announcing the assistance.
Gandhi had been to Kalawati’s house and later mentioned the 56-year-old, a farm widow from a sleepy village of Jalka in Yavatmal district, in his Parliament speech during a no-trust debate in 2008.
Gandhi did not help her financially directly but financial support poured in for her from many quarters, including Sulabha International, after the visit of the Congress youth icon.
The farmers’ rally was organised by Purti Group to mark the beginning of sugarcane crushing season. Former BJP president Rajnath Singh and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were guests-of-honour for the occasion.
Ridiculing the government policies, Gadkari said that when the farmers were not getting adequate crop loans, loans for luxury cars like Mercedes was available at 8 to 9%.
“It is the wrong policies of the government that led the farmers to commit suicide,” he alleged.
Joining the issue with Gadkari, Rajnath Singh said the government has failed to initiate concrete steps towards the well-being of the farmers in the country. He said cotton and sugar cane being cash crops are totally neglected and hence more and more cotton and sugar cane growers were committing suicide.
The Madhya Pradesh chief minister Chouhan lauded the efforts of Gadkari in motivating the farmers and also helping them to overcome the crisis and enhance their resources.