Rahul visits farmers in suicide-hit Karnataka district

Bengaluru, Oct 9 (IANS) Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday visited the family of a debt-ridden farmer who committed suicide in Karnataka’s Mandya and consoled the bereaved family, a party official said.

“It is an unfortunate coincidence that one more farmer committed suicide on a day Rahul was visiting us to interact with families of farmers who committed suicide during the last three months in the district,” a party member told IANS from Mandya, 100 km from here.

Gandhi, who is on a two-visit to Karnataka, flew by a helicopter to Mandya after landing at the Bengaluru airport on a Jet Airways flight from New Delhi with party general secretary Digvijay Singh and others.

“When Rahul learnt about the death of the farmer (Lokesh) at Sanabada Koppalu in Pandavapura taluk of this district on reaching Mandya, he rushed to his house, consoled the family and issued a cheque of Rs.1 lakh to his widow,” the party leader said.

Taking help of Chief Minister Siddaramahiah in translating his words into Kannada, Gandhi assured the family that the state government would come to its rescue and look after its welfare.

Sensing the gravity of the issue and farmers’ ire over the state government’s failure to address their woes arising out of debts, arrears from sugar mills, unremunerative prices to their crops and drought due to deficit rains, Gandhi discussed a relief package to them with a group of ministers and state party leaders at the zonal agriculture research centre (VC farm) on outskirts of Mandya.

Besides Siddaramaiah, state unit president G. Parameshwara and former chief minister and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna, who hails from Mandya district, Housing Minister Ambarish and Agriculture Minister J. Byre Gowda participated in the meeting.

“A relief package to farmers is likely to be announced by Rahul at a party meeting in Haveri on Saturday after consultations with the chief minister and officials,” the party member hinted.

Even as Gandhi was discussing the farmers’ issues, state farmers’ body (Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene) members demonstrated on the state highway between Bengaluru and Mysuru against the state government’s “anti-farmers” policies.

Returning to Bengaluru in the evening, Gandhi addressed the recently-elected about 3,000 gram panchayat members from across the state at the palace grounds on relief works in 24 of the 30 districts reeling under drought and power crisis.

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