Vidarbha’s farm widows are planning to protest at Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi’s Assembly election rally to be held at Yavatmal later this week.
The widows are upset that their popular poll candidate Kalavati Bandurkar (52) was pressurised by a senior Congress Rajya Sabha member to withdraw from the poll race. Another widow Bebitai Bais (45) replaced Kalavati. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti and Shetkari Sanghatana have sponsored Bais' candidature. Bais said that the widows would gather in large numbers at Gandhi’s Yavatmal rally on October 9.
“We will show the Congress our strength and ask Gandhi what he has done for us.” The region has seen over 7,000 suicides in the past few years and farm widows and their children want Gandhi to ensure substantial help for them. Yavatmal is affected most by farm suicides.
Kalavati found herself in the spotlight after Gandhi visited her last year and mentioned her in his speech in Parliament.
Her husband, a debt-ridden farmer, committed suicide in 2005. The widow’s family lives in a village without electricity.
Kalavati received aid from various quarters after Gandhi’s speech. She decided to contest the Assembly polls against the Congress candidate in Yavatmal’s Wani constituency. But she later withdrew her nomination on health grounds.
Kishore Tiwari, president of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti which fielded Kalavati, alleged that she withdrew her nomination after a Congress MP who heads a NGO that offered her a donation of Rs 30 lakh pressurised her to withdraw.