Rahul in Bundelkhand, says PM should show empathy for farmers

Last Updated 23 January 2016, 12:06 IST

Holding a 'padyatra' in drought-hit Bundelkhand, Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he should think about farmers and labourers too and not just industrialists and give more funds for the backward region.

The Congress Vice President reffered to Modi becoming "emotional" yesterday while expressing grief over the suicide by a dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at Hyderabad University and said the PM should also show empathy for the farmers who are providing "the food you eat".

Addressing villagers during his nearly seven-kilometre-long foot-march, he demanded that some of the money saved by the government due to decline in crude oil prices be diverted to the region.

"Yesterday, we saw Modiji becoming emotional...he paused during his speech (at BBAU convocation) and had tears in his eyes...I want to say Modiji the food you eat, the pulse which is today selling at Rs 220 is provided to you by farmers," he said.

"I would ask Modiji to think a little for the farmers, labourers and the poor because they too run the country and it is not only industrialists who do so. So, think about them as well," Rahul said.

The Congress leader sought more funds for the development of the water-scarce region.

"During the UPA regime, price of crude petroleum was USD 150 per barrel, whereas now it has fallen to just USD 28. A lot of money saved here can be used for development of such backward regions like Bundelkhand," he said.

Rahul, at the same time, said the entire money saved need not be pumped into the region, but at least a portion of it can be utilised.

Promising people of Bundelkhand that he would highlight their problems in Parliament, Rahul said he has been speaking on all these issues and voicing concern over farmers' plight during his padyatra in other parts of the country as well.

Touching on the major issue of migration from this region, Rahul said had the BJP government at the Centre and SP government in Uttar Pradesh earnestly implemented UPA government's MNREGS programme, the exodus could have been checked.

Rahul also congratulated partymen "for standing alongside the farmers and labourers and fighting for them".

Meanwhile, Rahul, on his arrival at the Khajuraho airport from Delhi en route to Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh, assured party leaders that he will soon tour the Bundelkhand region lying in Madhya Pradesh, according to MP Congress Secretary Nitin Chaturvedi.

The party vice president tried to understand the situation prevailing in the region, he said.

Party workers briefed Rahul on condition of dalits and tribals in Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhattarpur and Damoh districts.

Chaturvedi also said that Rahul has asked them to send a report on the state of affairs in the region to him.  

Rahul heard the grievances of farmers during the 'padyatra' and assured them that he will take up their issues in Parliament during the upcoming Budget session.

Bundelkhand region is home to 18.3 million people as per 2011 census and is blighted with drought and unseasonable rains that have destroyed standing winter crops.

In the past few years, several farmers have committed suicide allegedly due to poor crop production in 13 districts of the region.

The promised compensation by Uttar Pradesh government has not trickled down to those who need them the most. With no money for seeds and no water for irrigation, farmers have gone desperate, local Congress leaders alleged.

With Opposition parties getting active in the region in run up to the 2017 Assembly polls, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said his government would make necessary efforts to address the issues.

Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan recently visited the region to take stock of the developmental scheme and Yadav said he himself would visit Bundelkhand.

"We have taken a decision on the works to be carried out under MNREGA... In coming times, I'll also visit Bundelkhand. My government will help the region in every possible way," the Chief Minister had said.

Over a month back, Rahul Gandhi had visited the western UP to interact with sugarcane growers hit hard due to failure of sugar mills to give their dues. 
(Published 23 January 2016, 10:09 IST)

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