Congress tries to make amends in Vidarbha

Disappointment over Rahul’s visit the trigger

Updated - November 28, 2021 07:39 am IST

Published - May 05, 2015 04:30 am IST - MUMBAI

In what appears to be an attempt to make amends, a Congress leader from Maharashtra has donated Rs. 50,000 each to the nine farming households in Vidarbha’s Amravati days after party vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited them.

During his day-long “Samvad Padyatra” in Vidarbha where he covered more than 15 km in sweltering heat, Mr. Gandhi had interacted with farmers and listened to their problems. However, he had not given them the immediate relief they had expected.

Now, former Youth Congress general secretary Maharashtra Rahul Pugalia visited each of the nine households in the Dhamangaon and Chandur Railway tehsils in Amravati, which has witnessed 295 farm suicides this year, and handed over the amount to the families. Each of the households also received a bag each of 50 kg wheat and 50 kg rice.

Congress sources said the move came after they received adverse information from the ground. The families whom Mr. Gandhi met complained that they had expected some financial help from the leader. Farmers said though they were glad that Mr. Gandhi visited their homes, they had expected him to announce more concrete measures.

Mr. Pugalia dismissed the idea that it was to cover up the discontentment of farmers after Mr. Gandhi’s visit. The relief was provided as a “personal gesture.” “I toured the villages with Mr. Gandhi. I met farmers and saw their problems. After witnessing their plight, I thought I should do something to help them,” Mr. Pugalia, son of former Congress MP Naresh Pugalia, told The Hindu .

One of the families who expressed disappointment after Mr. Gandhi’s visit was of the debt-–ridden farmer Manikrao Thavkar who committed suicide last year in his native Tonglabad. Mr. Thavker’s son Mangesh expressed gratitude at the Congress’ initiative to extend monetary relief but said it was insufficient to end the farmer’s woes. He wanted the farmers’ debts to be written off.

“How many days will this grain and money last us? What value is Rs. 50,000 in today’s times? Back to square one after that. We want concrete solutions like power supply, wells, waiver of loans…,” he said.

Like hundreds of families across Vidarbha, the Thavker family, which owns four acres of land and owes banks Rs. 50,000, has suffered huge losses in the cultivation of wheat, soyabean and tur crops in the last two seasons.

Three years ago, the family paid Rs. 5,600 for an electricity connection for farming but is yet to receive power. During that period, their well has shrunk from 30 feet to 20 feet, further hampering their farming potential.

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