Kalavati, who moved Rahul Gandhi, to contest Maharashtra polls (Lead)

September 19th, 2009 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Mumbai, Sep 19 (IANS) Kalavati Bandurkar, a farmer’s widow from Yavatmal in Maharashtra who became the face of the ‘aam admi’ (common man) in the country after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi spoke of her plight in parliament, is to fight the state assembly elections.
After Rahul Gandhi’s speech, for a while Kalawati had become the name and the face of the plight being faced by farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Many farmers in the region have been forced to commit suicide after their crops failed and they could not pay off their debts.

Kalavati, 48, was Saturday given a nomination for the Oct 13 polls by the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS).

VJAS president Kishore Tiwari told IANS that Kalavati will file her nomination from the Wani assembly constituency, around 150 km from Nagpur.

“So far, these (political) leaders have only been exploiting the people in the name of farmers for votes. We have decided to really empower her with a nomination. We are confident she will bring sunlight to the lives of thousands of families who have lost their breadwinners,” Tiwari told IANS.

Speaking to IANS, Kalavati said that it has been over a year since Rahul Gandhi met her, but the condition in her native village Jalka has not changed.

“I have not applied for a Congress ticket, nor did anybody from that party offer me a nomination. VJAS has offered me a candidature and I have accepted it. If I win, I shall strive to serve the cause of the poor farmers in the state,” Kalavati told IANS over phone.

Tiwari said that in the past couple of years, there have been over 7,000 farmer deaths in the entire Vidarbha region, comprising 11 backward districts.

“Of these, Yavatmal, where Kalavati lives, has recorded the maximum - 1,600 deaths, and they continue even now,” he said. The other districts include Nagpur, Akola, Gondia, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Amravati, Buldana, Washim, Bhandara, and Chandrapur.

He pointed out that so far, a total of three farmland loan waiver packages have been announced by the centre and one by the state government.

“However, the farmers continue to die. This proves that all the money has disappeared in corruption,” he alleged.

Living in Jalka since her marriage, Kalavati has two sons and two daughters, and had to fend for the family after her husband Parshuram committed suicide Dec 23, 2005.

Undaunted by the misfortune that hit the family, Kalavati took over tending his nine-acre plot and grew cotton and soybean, but earned barely enough to feed her family.

Rahul Gandhi visited her tiny dwelling during his visit to Vidarbha early last year and mentioned her name in his parliament speech.

Later, she reciprocated by sending him a ‘Rakhi’ on the occasion of Rakshabandhan.

Presently, the VJAS and Kalavati are busy preparing the necessary documents required for her to file her nominations next Thursday.

The Wani seat shall be contested by the Congress and Shiv Sena.

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