Vidharba woman who inspired Rahul Gandhi gives BJP the slip

October 19th, 2011 - 12:05 am ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Nagpur, Oct 18 (IANS) Kalavati Bandurkar, a woman from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region who inspired Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to make an impassioned speech in parliament in 2009, Tuesday could not be traced by Bharatiya Janata Party workers who wanted her to attend a meeting addressed here by party leader L.K. Advani.

After Bandurkar’s 24-year-old ailing daughter committed suicide a month back, she is said to be keeping to herself, refusing to speak to people - be it the media or politicians.

A troubled Bandurkar, 55, mostly stays in her small hut in Jalka village of Yavatmal district.

“A few party workers from BJP had gone to Kalavati’s house Tuesday as they sought her presence in an address by Advani here. But Kalavati was not to be found,” said Kishore Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an NGO that works for the rights of farmers and farm widows.

“When they could not find her or reach her on her mobile, they called me to check if I knew of her whereabouts, which I was not aware of,” he added.

Her daughter’s suicide came to light Monday after Tiwari brought it to fore in his statement that the daily tragedies of suicides among farmers in Vidarbha never seem to abate.

Bandurkar’s daughter, Savita Divakar Khamankar, belonged to Ralegaon village in Chandrapur district. She killed herself because of poverty as she had no money to get treatment for her prolonged illness.

Expressing shock over the death, Tiwari said that Bandurkar had received aid after Rahul’s visit to Vidarbha, one donor, Sulabh International, deposited Rs.2.5 million in her son’s name in a bank.

“This must be a big blow to Kalavati whose husband committed suicide in 2005 and her debt-burdened son-in-law Sanjay Kalaskar killed himself last year,” Tiwari said.

Another activist, who stays in Bandurkar’s village said that she avoided being a part of any political rallies or functions.

“She says that her name is often being used by politicians for vested interests. Everyone who comes campaigning to address farmers of the Vidarbha region wants to make her their mascot,” Khadse said.

“Hence, she has stopped attending such programmes,” he added.

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