Hubballi/Bengaluru: The maize crop grown in four acres of farmland belonging to poor farmer Neelappa Hirebidari of Gudagur village in Ranibennur taluk has been destroyed to facilitate the erection of a temporary stage for the public function of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi scheduled for October 10.
Neelappa had some hope of mitigating the loss caused due to the drought by protecting some crops which are still unripe. But, he was left with no choice, but to sacrifice his entire crop on the direction of Congress leaders who have finalized his farmland as the venue for the programme.
Many farmers like him are also forced to remove their crop before harvesting as it is the native hamlet of former minister and MLA K.B. Koliwad, who is a strong aspirant for a ministerial berth.
Though the Congress leader has been visiting the place to give moral support to the farming community after a spate of suicides, his visit has turned out to be a bane rather than boon for many of them. Several farmers are being forced to sacrifice their crop to prevent inconvenience to the Congress leader during the 7-km padayatra by widening the narrow road between Maidur and Gudagur villages.
The villagers are hesitant to express their anger fearing a backlash from Congress workers as these villages comes under Gudagur Gram Panchayat, the native village of the Congress legislator. "Half of the crop has dried up in my farmland owing to failure of the monsoon, causing around Rs 40,000 loss. I had hopes of minimizing the loss by delaying the harvesting by one month as some maize corn has not become ripe. But, I have to sacrifice the crop as Congress leaders have chosen my farmland as venue for the convention on October 10. Therefore, officials have started clearing the field by removing the crop as a large number of Congress workers are expected to participate. This has compounded my woes with officials refusing to pay any compensation", farmer Neelappa Hirebidari said.
More than 50,000 people will attend the Congress convention after the padayatra and the rush of vehicles is expected to create a heavy traffic jam. Therefore, Congress leaders are
clearing the farmland for the parking facility though some of the crops are not ready to be harvested yet.
The people in Maidur, Gudagur and Chennapur villages are also forced to choose an alternative venue for open defecation until the programme is over as there is no toilet in most houses. These villages will virtually turn into a fortress due to deployment of around five thousand police personnel. Tight security will be provided along the roadside during Rahul Gandhi's padayatra. This will cause problems as they have been using the roadside in the outskirts for open defecation.
"Around fifty percent of the households in all three villages have not yet built toilets. Due to this, we will be put to hardship and have to find other places for open defecation. Women will be in a spot. We are left with no choice but to tolerate this till Rahul Gandhi’s tour programme is over", said Maidur village Basavarajappa Pujar.
Rahul may not visit dead farmers’ homes
All India Congress Committee (AICC) Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to visit houses of two to three farmers who have committed suicide in Mandya district fearing protests by farmer organisations and opposition parties on October 9.
However, he may hold an interaction with families of deceased farmers and others at V C Farm, a constituent college of University of Agricultural Sciences (Bengaluru) which is situated on Mandya-Melukote Road, about 10 km from Mandya City. Mr Gandhi will be arriving in Mandya City by a helicopter from Bengaluru on October 9 at around 10:30 am. The Mandya district has so far recorded 57 deaths of farmers of the total 518 farmer suicides across the state since April, 2015.
Initially, Mr Rahul was supposed to visit the houses of two to three deceased farmers in close vicinity of Mandya city but it is unlikely to happen due to protests by Janata Dal (Secular) workers and other farmer bodies. In view of security reasons, Mr Rahul's visit to villages may be cancelled. Instead, he will hold interaction with deceased farmers' families at the VC farm auditorium. Meanwhile, a team of Special Protection Group (SPG) arrived in the city to review the arrangements for Mr Rahul's visit. The team also inspected two to three auditoriums at the VC Farm from the security angle. Top police officers from the district accompanied the team.
After formal interaction with families of deceased farmers, Mr Rahul is scheduled to interact with agricultural scientists and students of agriculture. Later, he will address Congress workers in which Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC President Dr G Parameshwar and other senior Congress leaders will be participating. Then he would fly back to Bengaluru in the helicopter.