Setting out on a padyatra today to meet farmers in the Vidarbha region of the state, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was told by several of them that insurance companies were engaging in fraud and that the requisite compensation was not paid to them for crop loss.
Rahul this morning launched his ‘sanvad yatra’ from Gunji village in Maharashtra’s Amravati district to highlight farmers’ woes and the agrarian situation in the region.
He will be visiting five villages between Gunji to Ramgaon and will meet the farmers who have suffered crop losses due to unseasonal rain as also the families of those who have committed suicide over crop loss.
Sitting on a jute mat at a temple in Hirapur village, the Congress vice president gave a patient hearing to a group of marginal farmers.
The villagers alleged that “insurance companies were only selecting sample areas for giving compensation while the rest of the farmers were being deprived by them of the benefits due”.
“The insurance companies send their agents who mop up business for foreign giants as an incentive but, ultimately, it is the poor farmer who loses,” a villager, Pandurang, complained to Rahul.
Some of them said that pesticides and fertilisers were being supplied to them at high prices even though the cost of production of such items was quite less.
The villagers also drew Rahul’s attention to the damage their soya crop has suffered in the unseasonal rainfall. Soyabean prices have crashed heavily due to the damages, another farmer said.
Hailing Rahul’s initiative in opposing the Land Acquisition Bill, 2015, in Parliament, the villagers said they was apprehension that farm land would be acquired for
Nearly 171 farmers have committed suicide from 2006 to 2014 in Dhamangaon taluka of the district, the villagers informed the Congress leader.
Under a scorching sun, Rahul went on foot from village to village. The padyatra saw the participation of a large number of Congress workers, particularly from Youth Congress, waving the party flag, banners and posters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday termed Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Punjab as a “day-long excursion” and “tourism” and asked where was the Congress vice president when a large number of farmers died during the 10 years of UPA rule.
“He is resorting to tourism… He is free and welcome to travel across the country,” said Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, when asked about Gandhi’s visit Punjab to highlight the farmers’ plight.
Another senior Union Minister termed the visit as a “day-long excursion” and said such “one-day publicity” measures will boomerang on the Congress party.
“Rahul Gandhi is resorting to a day’s excursion. Where was he when lakhs of farmers were dying during the last 10 years when his party was in power? Such things of one-day publicity are going to boomerang,” said the senior minister.
Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij took pot shots at Rahul Gandhi’s journey by train to meet farmers in Punjab, saying from the pictures in newspapers it appears like “a child had run away from his home”.
“After looking at the pictures of Rahul Gandhi sitting in a train like a terrified and scared child, which appeared in today’s newspapers, it appears like a child had run away from his home,” he said in a tweet.
He will be visiting five villages between Gunji to Ramgaon and will meet the farmers who have suffered crop losses due to unseasonal rain. He is accompanied by MPCC president Ashok Chavan and senior state Congress leaders.
Maharashtra is one of the states that experienced severe agrarian crisis and Amravati division in Vidarbha region has witnessed many suicide cases of farmers this year.
Ahead of his visit, a farmer, Gajanan Sheshrao Khongal, allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a well in Morshi tehsil of the district on Tuesday.
In Gunji, Rahul met family members of farmers Nilesh Walke and Ambadas Vahile who had committed suicide recently.
Gunji, with a population of 1,200 people, was the first stop in the ‘padyatra’ undertaken by the Congress scion where he also met a group of children from orphanges and interacted with them briefly.
Subsequently, Rahul marched to Shahpur village, another suicide-prone area, five kms from Gunji in Amravati district, which is represented by Virendra Jagtap of Congress in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Back from a tour of Punjab mandis, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the plight of farmers triggering an uproar in Lok Sabha.
The Congress Vice President accused the government of not procuring the the produce of farmers, a charge that was flatly rejected by Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Gandhi said he wanted to apprise the House of the pain and problems of the Punjab farmer whose produce is lying in Mandis and is not being procured by the government.
Targeting the Prime Minister, he said he is on tours and should also visit Punjab so that he understands the plight of farmers.
Amid protests from BJP benches, Gandhi also took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, questioning whether farmers are not contributing to ‘Make in India’ by providing food to the entire country.