Prime minister Narendra Modi‘s largesse to countries he recently visited has hit a raw nerve with the farmers in Vidarbha‘s suicide country. Wondering why the same PM – who has collectively extended credit of over $5 billion to Mongolia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Fiji – has not even bothered to visit the killing fields, which have seen over 1,300 debt-trapped farmers killing themselves over the last year.
Naresh Gondase of Talegoan village, Amravati, whose brother committed suicide by consuming pesticide on May 17, told dna: “When I see on television how our PM has given fresh credit of $2 billion to Bangladesh, $1 billion to Mongolia, around $500 million each to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Mauritius and other countries, I wonder why he hasn’t thought of us given that over 700 farmers have died on his watch in the last five months alone.” He hoped the PM would at least help distressed farmers shift to the countries to which his government was being generous. “Maybe that will help him prioritise helping us,” he rubbed it in angrily.
Others like Kishor Tiwari of the farm rights’ advocacy group Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS) lamented, “Farmers in the grip of agrarian crisis are being denied fresh farm credit even though the state itself has declared drought and crop failure consecutively over the last three seasons. The Union budget didn’t even mention it and the state, which promised farm loan-waiver, failed to give any relief on the farm credit front even as farmers killed themselves by the hundreds.
“Over five million farmers, who voted in huge numbers for the BJP in the 2014 elections because of promises of enhanced prices for agricultural produce made by Modi himself during his campaign, are now staring at death and Maharashtra’s agriculture minister Eknath Khadse of the BJP recently had the gall to say that farmer suicides cannot be stopped completely.”
Tiwari further explained how the recent state government orders and RBI instructions, asking bankers to help out, only spoke of 2014-15. “That will entitle hardly 10% of debt-ridden farmers to fresh farm credit while the region has been in the grip of drought and crop failure since 2012. Now the remaining four million farmers will either be forced to go knocking at the doors of private money lenders or simply give up farming.”