New Delhi: The saffron young turk and one of BJP’s leading faces in Uttar Pradesh Varun Gandhi is turning ‘Gandhian’ for the debt hit farmers.
Mr Gandhi has started offering financial help to farmers on the brink of committing suicide. Due to the worsening agrarian crisis in parts of Uttar Pradesh, there had been reports of farmers committing suicides and a large number of them are on the brink of taking their own lives.
Mr Gandhi had been donating his MP’s salary for the last four years to the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. Expanding the rainbow, he decided to “help the marginal farmers” on the brink of committing sucide.
Mr Gandhi had been zipping across the state to create awareness over the issue and has so far covered 20 districts which include Agra, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Baharich, Lakhimpur Kheri, Pratapgarh, Aligarh, Sultanpur, Sitapur, Moradabad and Allahabad.
So far the total contrubtion from the people has been nearly Rs 17.8 crore, which helped 3,250 families with each family getting about Rs 50,000. It was found the average debt of the “marginal farmers” ranged between Rs 30,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh. Mr Gandhi himself contributed around Rs 1.6 crore from his personal resources, which helped nearly 300 families.
“I had made a pledge to donate my entire Parliamentary salary to the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. After 2014 we decide to expand this into a movement by also aiming to help those marginal farmers on the brink of committing suicide,” Mr Gandhi said.
Mr Gandhi then set up three indicators to select the crisis hit farmers. These included, farmers who had defaulted on their loan-repayment, whose crops had been destroyed in a row of three crop cycles and those who has no fixed assets.
Mr Gandhi said that “if a farmer suffered from all these conditions there was a significant chance that they might take their own life.”
Stepping up the effot Mr Gandhi and his team contacted local banks, local administration to get the information to establish a data bank of the farmers in dire straits.
Volunteers fanned out to asecretain the real condition. Mr Gandhi and his team had also reached out to the local lawyers, businessmen, rich farmers, traders toc reate awareness.
“The local elite were earlier unaware of the scale of rural distress, but, after giving me an audience and looking at the facts and faces of the impoverished, they contrubuted generously,” Mr Gandhi said.
Mr Gandhi set up a direct link between the donor and farmers in distress. He said, “I was conscious that I did not want to create an NGO or an organisation but simply act as a direct via media between the giver and the marginal farmer.
Besides his personal contribution, Mr Gandhi managed to raise Rs 18 lakhs, which reportedly “saved 26 families from falling into a debt trap”.
Mr Gandhi said that his “next aim is to help 10,000 agrarian families and work with technology professionals to create a platform” to address the crisis....