Nirmal (Telangana): Keeping his focus on farmers' issue, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today kicked off his 15-km 'padyatra' from Koratikal village in Adilabad district to interact with distressed farmers in drought-stricken villages.
Rahul met the family members of Velma Rajeshwar, who allegedly committed suicide due to debt burden of nearly Rs 12 lakh, and consoled them. He handed over a Rs two lakh cheque to Rajeshwar's widow Gangavva.
Rahul Gandhi. Pic/PTI
The 44-year-old Amethi MP is also scheduled to meet four more families of farmers, who allegedly killed themselves after being unable to repay loans in Laxmanchanda, Rachapur and Vadial villages. His foot march is slated to culminate at Vadial village, where he would address a farmers' meeting.
This is Rahul's first visit to Telangana after the formation of the new state, following bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh last year. Though it was the UPA government's decision to carve out a separate state, the Congress failed to reap dividends in last year's Assembly elections, in which it was humbled by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, led by K Chandrasekhar Rao, which was voted to power.
Rahul's padyatra is in solidarity with farmers and is aimed at instilling a sense of confidence among them and highlighting their woes, according to Telangana Congress leaders. Ahead of his visit, the ruling TRS had termed the exercise as 'politically motivated.'
"These Gandhis would come and go," Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had reacted earlier on Rahul's padayatra. The main Opposition Congress, TDP and BJP have alleged that hundreds of farmers committed suicide due to the agrarian distress in Telangana since the TRS government assumed office in June last, a charge denied by the ruling party and state administration.
The ruling TRS, meanwhile, said the Congress should not play politics on farmers' issues. "A democratic country like India needs a strong Opposition. Rahul Gandhi and Congress should focus on issues that don't backfire on them. Selective amnesia will not serve their interests," TRS Lok Sabha member Konda Vishweshwar Reddy said.