Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Saturday assured villagers of drought-prone Satara all help in easing their water problems.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, whose home district is Satara, western Maharashtra, accompanied Gandhi.
“I have not come here to talk but to listen to you,” Gandhi told people in Zashi village.
The Congress leader visited a small pond that went dry for the first time in decades, indicating the severity of this year's drought in this rain-shadow belt.
“We want water, not promises,” some young villagers said virtually in unison, interrupting Chavan, who made an intervention to describe to them the state government’s plans to tackle the crisis.
“Mai puri koshish karunga (I will try my best),” said Gandhi, and left for village Bijvadi, where he visited farms whose pomegranate plantations had dried.
At Pangri village, Gandhi inaugurated a fodder depot before meeting villagers, who too wanted his intervention in resolving their water problems.
At the end, Gandhi told the villagers: “I have come here to understand your woes. In the state and at the Centre, we are in power and the chief minister is here. We will try and get whatever needs to be done in Delhi.”
The Maharashtra government in the 1990s had planned a series of projects that have not been completed.
Visits by high-profile politicians to these areas are not new. Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister had visited the area in 1987. Congress president Sonia Gandhi also came in 2003, the year registered as the most drought-affected one. This year, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar visited the place.