Nearly 1,802 farmers have committed suicide since November 2014, after the BJP led government took over the reigns of Maharashtra.
That’s what the Opposition claims. The figures compiled by the office of Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, will form the main thrust of their argument in favour of loan waiver for farmers during their discussion in the state legislature.
The statistics compiled from the six revenue divisions in the state show that in the first five months of this year, around 1,050 farmers committed suicide. In comparison, last year, the farmers’ suicide count from January to May stood at 693.
The figures reveal that Amravati division of Vidarbha and Aurangabad division of Marathwada have witnessed maximum suicides at 675 and 611, respectively (from November 2014 to May 2015). In Amravati division, the figures work out to nearly three farmers committing suicide every day from November.
“There is a near 40% increase in the number of farmer suicides this year. Is it not indicative of government apathy? If they can give Rs2,098 crore for LBT and crores for toll, then why not for farmers?” said Vikhe Patil.
Politics over farmers has overshadowed all other issues in the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature. Erstwhile allies Congress and NCP, in a rare collaborative mood, have teamed up as the Opposition and are underscoring the plight of farmers to take on the Devendra Fadnavis government. As part of their protest, they have not participated in the proceedings of the House for the first three days.
The dry spell in the state is likely to spell fresh trouble for lakhs for farmers, who may be forced to go in for re-sowing or second sowing exercise. And, as such the issue has resonance with more than 50 % of the state population
“We have clear instructions from the top that the focus will be on farmers for the first week of the session. They form our core constituency. Other issues such as scams will be taken up in the coming weeks,” said a senior Congress leader.
Ready for slugfest
Apart from the statistics, the Opposition is ready with recent instances of suicides from ground zero, including letter found on a farmer, Madhav Gode, who committed suicide on June 6 and left behind a note pleading for a loan waiver. The strategy has already got the government on a back foot as even its ally, Shiv Sena, is critical of the government’s handling of the rural distress.
However, as a strategy the BJP has started hitting back by linking farmers suicides to the last 15 years of Congress-NCP’s misrule, pointing out how earlier loan waiver went into the pockets of sugar barons and political heavyweights.