Dear Devendra Fadnavis ji,
A day ago, I read your open letter to senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai over his criticism of the state government on the issue of meat ban and former Mumbai police chief Rakesh Maria’s transfer. You start with saying that a section of the media, without having sound knowledge, bash the government with an agenda. But today, I am writing a very short letter without having any agenda, or favour to any political party or a so-called ‘leftist’ ideology.
You were very prompt in writing a reply and clarifying your government’s stand on the points raised by Sardesai. You also mentioned that a common man expects roti and rice in his plate and that you are more “concerned” about that than anything else. However, it doesn’t seem that you or your government is actually concerned about the farmers. I am not making this statement blatantly. If this wasn’t true, you would have probably shown the same promptness in replying to the heart wrenching suicide note written by a farmer to you, before he committed suicide.
When you were sworn in as the 27th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at a grand function in Mumbai’s Wankhade stadium, I was actually happy that the state is going to have a highly qualified CM, who came from the grassroots. But even after 11 months of being in power, it is unfortunate to see that your government has been repeatedly been in the limelight for the wrong reasons.
The letter by farmer Atmaram Landge not only spoke about the government’s apathy towards farmers, but also about how they have lost faith in their own leader. If their issues had been addressed, perhaps Landge would not have felt that his plight was being ignored or been prompted to take the extreme step.
What could be more unfortunate than a farmer from your own region losing his trust in you? Perhaps, a response to other young Vidarbha farmers like 35-year-old Landge who have lost hope, was more a need of the hour than responding to Rajdeep?
Sure, an open letter to Rajdeep got you applause, not only from his detractors, but also from people from all walks of life. For a large part of the day, #DevendraSlapsRajdeepwas a top trend on Twitter. In contrast, your reply to a poor farmer’s letter may have not received the same coverage, but it would have gone a long way in healing some wounds of the farmers. It would have given them a light of hope, that the chief minister and the government are taking note of the plight of farmers.
In your letter to Rajdeep, you also mentioned the Jalyukta Shivar Yojna that aims to make Maharashtra drought-free and said that it had helped execute nearly 100,000 works in 6,000 villages within six months. But if that is the case, why is a 40-year-old woman in the drought-hit Marathwada region still ending her life by setting herself on fire?
Maharashtra is reeling under a serious drought situation. Almost everyday, there are reports of one or the other farmer committing suicide. Some farmers in the state don’t have enough money to even afford a single meal in the day. According to reports, the total number of farmers’ suicides this year has exceeded 1,000. Members of the Ighore family in Hingoli are giving up food for their children, so that at least the next generation can survive. A landless labour in Paithan tehsil of Aurangabad district is waiting for starvation to kill him. A daughter of farmer Annarao Jadhav of Latur district, who scored 94% in Std X, is forced to work in the farm as he has no money to pay for her college fees for higher and technical education. These examples are a loud and shameful example of the plight of our farmers.
For the development of the state, it is important to attract more global investment, so while your visits to foreign nations are justifiable, it is also important that you respond to the plight of poor farmers.
No, I don’t expect you to reply to this letter, but at the least, I expect you to take note of the rising farmer suicides and their grievances, which are indeed, more important issues than the meat ban and Rakesh Maria’s transfer.
Yours sincerely and without malice.
First published on dnaindia.com