“I am eager to meet Rahul again. But nobody is helping me this time. You people come and interview me, but nobody helps me in this,” rues Kalavati Bandurkar, the farm widow from Jalka village in Yavatmal district, who made headlines after Rahul Gandhi first visited her in 2008 in a similar exercise in suicide-prone Yavatmal district. “No Congress leader came to me this time. I am eager to meet Rahul if it can still be worked out.”
Talking to The Indian Express, Kalavati, made famous by Rahul when he narrated her story in Parliament, said, “I am doing fine today, all thanks to him.” Ironically, while the then Congress government had not considered her husband Parsuram’s suicide in 2005 as arising out of agrarian distress, NGO Sulabh International had rushed to her help with an aid of Rs 30 lakh. Kalavati now earns a monthly interest of Rs 15,000 on her fixed savings with that aid, but agriculture is still not a happy story for her.
“I hired seven acres and tilled it to grow cotton, but lost Rs 60,000. I could harvest cotton worth only Rs 50,000, which was cultivated at an expense of Rs 1.10 lakh,” she said. Kalavati herself owns about five acres in Chandrapur district, which she has given it on rent.
Her two sons, Pritam and Chaitanya, have just appeared for std XII and X examinations respectively. One of her seven daughters also committed suicides five years ago due to some family fights. Two daughters are staying with her as their husbands are addicted to liquor, according to Kalavati. Kalavati has built a five-room house for herself and family and also runs a flour mill.
Asked if Rahul had made any difference to farmers when Congress was in government for 50 years, she said, “Prices for cotton were good in those days. Of course, they fell in the last few years, but then input costs were less during Rahul’s rule.”