"What should we do? You are only concerned for yourself Modi Saheb... We are not begging for alms, but what is rightly due to us... MSP must be given to us as the money-lenders are threatening us. Nobody takes risks like the farmers... where do we go with our grievances," Kedari said in his suicide note.
PUNE — In a shocker, a penniless and frustrated farmer Dashrath L. Kedari, greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his 72nd birthday (September 17) and then jumped into a village pond to end his life, his grieving family said here on Monday.
The Maharashtra Opposition has called upon the PM to visit the family of the farmer who penned a suicide note and raised issues of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and other issues confronting the agro-sector.
Kedari’s brother-in-law Arvind Waghmare said the incident took place in Bankarphata village where he had been working as a farmer for the past 8 years.
“He seemed very depressed that day, but conveyed his wishes for a long life to the PM, then jumped into a nearby pond and killed himself. A suicide note was recovered later,” Waghmare told IANS.
Opposition Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress slammed the state and Central government for failure “to protect farmers reeling under a severe agrarian crisis with a record number of farmland suicides clocked this year”.
In his final note, debt-ridden Kedari wished ‘Happy Birthday to You, PM’ and then blamed the state government for failing to ensure MSP which compelled him to end his life and escape the debtors.
He rued how the state was not giving MSP to onion, tomato and other crops’ cultivators, suffering from the ravages of the recent floods and the losses of the pandemic.
“What should we do? You are only concerned for yourself Modi Saheb… We are not begging for alms, but what is rightly due to us… MSP must be given to us as the money-lenders are threatening us. Nobody takes risks like the farmers… where do we go with our grievances,” Kedari said.
Congress state President Nana Patole, Sena Spokespersons Kishore Tiwari and Dr. Manisha Kayande and Nationalist Congress Party Chief Spokesperson Mahesh Tapase slammed the government for failure to tackle the state agrarian crisis which has resulted in a spate of desperate suicides by the tillers.
Shooting a letter to Modi, Tiwari – who is President of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) – urged the PM to immediately come to visit the Kedari family as the state government has failed to solve the problems of farmers.
He recalled how Modi – during his trendsetter ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ with farmers in his visit to Yavatmal (March 2014) – had assured to address core issues like MSP, marketing, input costs, easy credit from public sector banks, change in crop patterns, risk management by way of crop insurance, etc.
However, despite the PM’s best efforts, nothing has materialised owing to a hostile administration and corrupt implementation agencies, leading to tragedies like Kedari’s suicide for precisely similar reasons, Tiwari pointed out.
He called upon Modi to visit the Kedari family or direct Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to go and console the deceased farmers’ kin during her visit to Pune next week.
“A farmer greets the PM and then goes on his ‘chita’ (funeral pyre), but the PM is busy bringing the ‘cheetah’ to the country… This is the sad status in the country,” said Dr. Kayande, taking a swipe.
Patole said when farmers are burning on the pyres, the PM is organising ‘cheetah’ mega-events and called for “ending this suicides circle”.
Tapase termed it a ‘shame’ that farmers are greeting PM’s birthday with suicide as “the government has gone deaf, dumb and blind” to their plight.
A grim Tiwari added that this year, over 1,080 farmers have ended lives in Vidarbha alone and the state has created a new record with around 2,600 peasants’ suicides in the first nine months of 2022.
Kedari, 42, hailing from Wadgaon-Anand village, is survived by his wife Shanta and two college-going children – son Shubham, 20, and daughter Shravani, 18.
His funeral was completed last weekend after the Alephata Police made enquiries and registered a case, said Waghmare. — IANS