Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will walk for at least 15-20km a day from April 30, as he starts his padyatra from Vidarbha – the region which, on an average, witnesses at least three farmer suicides a day – to attack the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre over the controversial land bill.
According to sources, Gandhi will visit Dhamangaon and some other areas in Amravati district, where cotton farmers are facing acute crisis following untimely rains, hailstorm and no remunerative price for their produce. From Vidarbha, Gandhi will proceed to Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and other parts of the country over the next four months to mobilise support against the proposed bill, said a senior Congress leader.
Gandhi is likely to be accompanied by Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan and Maharashtra youth Congress chief Vishwajit Kadam. His focus will be on regions where the BJP did well in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena won all 10 Lok Sabha seats from the region, while in the Assembly, the BJP bagged 45 seats, and the Sena won 4 seats.
“Rejuvenated with the success of the farmers’ rally in Delhi, a hard-hitting speech against the new land bill in Parliament and his visit to the Kedarnath shrine, Gandhi hopes to revive the century-old party,” the leader said.
Kishore Tiwari, president, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, which has been documenting farmers’ suicide, said, “Around 458 farmers have ended their lives since January this year. More than 90 deaths have been reported in this month. No serious measures are being taken by the state government to prevent such suicides.”
In July 2008, Gandhi had visited the houses of Kalawati Bandurkar and Shashikala Ringne in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha. Of them, Kalawati’s husband, Puroshottam, had committed suicide owing to crop failure in December 2005, and Shashikala was a distressed farmer with a marginal landholding.