Hemant Patil, a Shiv Sena MLA from Nanded, said on Monday that the plight of the farmers and the state administration’s apathy towards them made him ashamed to be in government. Patil was not alone in speaking out against the government — minutes later, others joined in criticising the state over the deaths of tribal students.
The opposition tried to move an adjournment motion over the death of farmer Madhav Kadam from Nanded — who died days after consuming poison outside Mantralaya last week — soon after the assembly proceedings began.
The opposition demanded that condolences be paid to Kadam in the assembly. When speaker Haribhau Bagde refused to admit the motion, Congress and NCP members staged a walkout.
Patil said he had visited Kadam’s home last year and was shaken by his family’s plight. “I personally visited Kadam’s family after he tried to commit suicide last year. The family was living in terrible conditions because of the agrarian crisis and the apathy of the district administration towards farmers. I met officers at the tehsil and district collector offices but got no response from them. I felt ashamed to be an MLA, and more so for being a representative of the ruling party,” he said.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse said Kadam’s family has been given financial assistance to compensate for crop losses and has been assured of more assistance over the next 10 days.
Other members of the ruling party joined the dissidents on another issue – the deaths of 116 tribal students in residential schools from snake bites, malaria, typhoid and other treatable ailments. Their families have not received compensation for three years because of the bureaucracy’s indifference.
Gulabrao Patil of the Shiv Sena and Sanjay Savkare and Ashish Shelar of the BJP criticised the government and demanded action against officials in the tribal development department. When Vishnu Savra, minister of the department, told the house that the compensation has been released, Patil claimed this was done only after a notice to the raise the question was submitted ahead of the session.
Dissatisfied by the minister’s reply, the MLAs accused him of shielding the officers responsible. Speaker Haribhau Bagde was forced to intervene; he directed the government begin compensating the students’ families in three months.