‘Pray to God Modi Govt Doesn’t Return to Power’: Vidarbha Farmers

The Quint’s Chaupal reaches Akola in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region to talk to farmers about the Modi government. 

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‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ was a slogan given by Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965. Almost 55 years after that slogan and 70 years after Independence, the farmers of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha are still taking their own lives.

Year after year after year, successive governments have failed to address the farmer crisis. The Quint spoke to farmers from the Akola district of the Vidarbha region, where the farmers give a report card of the Modi government.

‘Pray to God this Govt Doesn’t Return’

Expressing dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Modi and the Fadnavis government in terms of farm loan waivers and MSPs, the farmers said that they suffered more in the past five years than in the Congress’ tenure.

“The Modi government has done nothing for the farmers. All the promises they made in their agenda were never fulfilled. Especially the matter of the Swaminathan Commission. The prices for the produce that we used to get earlier, have been dropped further in the past five years and the farmers have been harassed. They announced loan waivers, but nobody got them,” said Manoj Khandare.

“Farmers own huge amount of land. Water and electricity is still a problem across the Vidarbha district. Unlike western Maharashtra, the farming here is not modern or developed. The way farmers undertake traditional farming in Vidarbha, they can't survive on that,” he added.

“Loan waivers were announced, but the loans weren’t waived. I have a loan of Rs 35,000. I had taken that loan in 2016. But it still hasn’t been waived. If the government is going to work like this, how will we survive? I pray to god this government doesn’t return to power in 2019,” said Nagesh Sawarkar.

‘Modi Govt ‘Bribing’ Farmers With Promise of Rs 6,000’

In the interim Budget announced by the government recently, Rs 6,000 have been promised to farmers annually in three instalments. However, the farmers say that the amount is too less to be able to survive.


“It is a very small amount. They are trying to woo farmers with those 2,000 rupees. They are just trying to ask for votes with that money,” said Pramod Chore.

“I want to know where this 6,000 number has come from? What was the process to decide on that figure? If you calculate, it comes down to Rs 3.33 per acre. What will happen with that? And why just Rs 6,000? Why not 2,000? Or 2 lakh?” said Lakshmikant Kautkar, an activist and a farmer himself.

“They want to win elections with money. They are bribing the voters. 'We put Rs 2,000 in your account, you vote for us.' What's worse, you are using government money to bribe us. This is exploitation of democracy,”added Khandare.

‘Rahul Gandhi Kept His Promise on Loan Waivers’

The Congress recently won elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and announced loan waivers within hours, saying that Rahul Gandhi's promise was being delivered upon. The farmers hailed the decision and said that the party would definitely benefit from it in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“Rahul Gandhi had promised that farm loans will be waived and he kept that promise. He should be congratulated. If the Congress comes to power in the upcoming elections, we hope it will give the farmers some relief and provide solutions to get rid of farm loans,” said Khandare.

“They had promised in their election manifesto that they will waive form loans and they did it. This will definitely benefit the Congress. They will win in other states because of this, like they won in other states and also in Lok Sabha elections,” added Chore.


Why Are Vidarbha’s Farmers Taking Their Own Lives?

In a region that’s grappling with farmer suicides for decades, the farmers said the Modi government has done nothing to address the issue.

“The Modi government has done nothing regarding farmer suicides. On one hand, they are giving farm loans. On the other hand, there's no electricity here. There's a water crisis as well. A farmer spends at least Rs 100 every day going to the bank. Eventually, he is left with nothing and this is what is leading to farmer suicides,” said Mukesh Nichal.

“If this government stays for another five years, one farmer will take their own life in every household,” said Sanjay Gawande.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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