Vidarbha farmers take up Gandhigiri
Sanjay Tiwari/Rohan Baadkar
Saturday, October 28, 2006 (Koljhari/Nagpur):
Farmers groups in Vidarbha, a region that has seen over a 1000 farmer suicides since June last year, have taken to Gandhigiri to pressurise the government.
They want a better price for their cotton yield. Tired of waiting for the VIP visit that never happened, farmers at Koljhari village resorted not to loud protests or agitations but Gandhigiri to make a point.
Armed with puja thalis and flowers, hundreds of farmers gathered to felicitate pictures of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
This year while on special tour to Vidarbha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to visit this village to meet the family of a farmer who committed suicide.
The PM was to be accompanied by Pawar and Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. A slight change in the tour made them skip this visit but the farmers here are still waiting for them.
Fed up of the wait they decided to do the traditional prayers offered to the gods before they bring their harvest home hoping this will help draw their attention to the spiraling crisis.
Little has changed
Despite the announcement of a Rs 4000 crore rupee package little has changed on the ground.
"I have two hectares of land and I don't owe anything to any bank. I wanted a loan but the Central Bank just kept giving me dates and sending me away. For three months, they kept me waiting and then asked why do you need loans now that the season is over?" asked Nanaji Ekonkaar, farmer, Mauda.
"Those who did not get loans and the widows of farmers who ended their lives are here with relatives to worship these leaders," said Kishor Tiwari, President, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.
And as the leaders kept smiling in the pictures the farmers raised slogans demanding a better price for cotton, this on a day when seven more suicides were reported from this region.