Shiv Sena’s farmer leader Kishore Tiwari on Tuesday slammed the ruling coalition of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis for the record number of farmers’ suicides this year in Maharashtra.
Considering the terrible scenario, instead of tackling the agrarian crises which has assumed demonic proportions, ministers and leaders of the Shinde-Fadnavis are “busy dancing” in different areas, claimed Tiwari, who is Chairman of the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM).
“This year may prove to be the worst in terms of farmland suicides as from January till date, a staggering 1,050 peasants have ended their lives, and the worst spell started from July-August, which is the peak crop season during monsoon,” said Tiwari, on tour of several affected villages.
“Rather than inform the top leadership of the farmers’ tragedy, ministers like Gulabrao Patil and Abdul Sattar, or leaders Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Navneet Kaur-Rana, and more, were seen dancing or indulging in ‘fugdi’ at various festive occasions in recent days…” Tiwari said.
In the past one week alone, over two dozen farmers have taken the extreme step, apparently under the burden of heavy debts from local money-lenders or micro-finances touts but no steps were initiated by the administration or the political leadership.
“In many villages that I am touring, no state official has visited the families of the farmers who committed suicide, and the people have complained that they have not received any aid despite tall claims by the government and ministers,” fumed Tiwari.
Giving details, he said the Shinde-Fadnavis regime has made tall announcements on giving aid, but the situation at the ground-level is starkly different and “the grieving families are furious at being ignored in their time of need”.
Currently, he said the worst-hit by suicides are Amravati, Yavatmal, Chandrapur, Bhandara and Wardha district in the state’s eastern region of Vidarbha, and last month (August), Yavatmal alone notched 40 deaths.
The VNSSM chief rued that the Shinde-Fadnavis government is devoted fulltime “to political strategies for winning the upcoming civic elections”, even as scores of suicide-hit families in the state are in mourning during the happy festival of Ganeshotsav.
“I urgently appeal to the CM and DyCM to leave politicking aside and spare some attention for the plight of the farming community in the grip of the agro-crisis. After all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shinde have both promised to make the state free of farmers suicides… Now you are in power, so fulfil your assurance,” said Tiwari grimly.
Over the next week, the VNSSM head plans to tour several Vidarbha districts to get a first-hand ground assessment on the prevalent situation with crowds gathering in all villages he visits.