How a quip by Rahul Gandhi won Telangana’s chilli farmers a Rs 20-lakh bonanza
Chilli farmers from Khammam and Warangal districts have been suffering heavy losses due to lack of remunerative prices for their produce, a factor that spurred protests among agriculturists across Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra earlier this month.telangana Updated: Jun 18, 2017 08:31 IST
A casual suggestion made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to former MP V Hanumantha Rao during a public meeting at Sangareddy in Telangana has rained a Rs 20-lakh bonanza on red chilli farmers from Khammam and Warangal.
Chilli farmers from the two districts have been suffering heavy losses due to lack of remunerative prices for their produce, a factor that spurred protests among agriculturists across Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra earlier this month.
The Rs 20-lakh relief was offered by former Sangareddy MLA T Jayaprakash Reddy alias Jagga Reddy, who auctioned his golden bracelet in the presence of mediapersons on Friday. Interestingly, the ornament was gifted to Reddy by Hanumantha Rao on Gandhi’s suggestion.
The bracelet, which weighs five tolas, was bagged by Patancheru realtor T Mahender Reddy. The actual cost of the ornament is Rs 1.5 lakh.
Gandhi, who was impressed by the crowd turnout at the Sangareddy meeting on June 1, complimented Reddy for turning the event into such a grand success. Then he asked Rao – who was seated beside him – how Reddy could be rewarded for this. The former MP responded by saying that he had nothing but his gold bracelet to give away.
“In that case, why don’t you give it to Reddy as a token of appreciation?” Gandhi quipped.
The Congress vice-president probably had no idea how seriously his words would be taken. Rao called a press meet the following day and gifted his bracelet to Reddy. “I am the most loyal Congressman and a trusted lieutenant of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. So, when Rahul asked me to gift my bracelet to Reddy, I couldn’t say no,” he said.
Instead of keeping the gift, the former MLA chose to auction it at the Hyderabad Press Club on Friday. “The proceeds of the auction will be distributed among red chilli farmers in Khammam and Warangal. Rahul interacted with some of these farmers, and was pained to know that they had been booked in criminal cases and brought to the court in handcuffs. He said the Congress party would extend all possible help to the farmers. Inspired by his gesture, I decided to distribute Rs 20 lakh among affected farmers,” Reddy said.
A programme will be held under the auspices of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee to distribute the money among farmers. Reddy said it was yet to be ascertained how many farmers would benefit from the money, and how much each beneficiary will get.