ibnlive » India

Nov 24, 2007 at 01:40pm IST

Industrialists love Modi, but he faces ire from farmers

Amreli (Gujarat): Dhirubhai Godhania, a cotton farmer in Gujarat’s Amreli district, spends a lot of his time contemplating killing himself.

And the rest of the time he struggles to keep his crop alive, which is withering away without water.

The state's electricity board has cut off power to run his water pump after complaints of meter tampering and thefts.

Thousands of other farmers are in the same pathetic position as Dhirubhai. They are caught in a cycle of failing crops and unpaid loans that is driving hundreds to suicide.

"The government has fined me lakhs of rupees, our situation is desperate and nobody has helped me,” says Dhirubhai.

Ironically, taking their fight up against Narendra Modi's BJP government is a member of the Sangh Parivar, the RSS-backed Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS).

"These raids on farmers are wrong. Power rates are so high, how can the Government impose such fines?" says district president, Amreli, BKS, Praful Senjalia.

Support for the farmers' cause from within the Parivar has heated up the fight to reclaim Saurashtra with its crucial chunk of over 50 Assembly Seats.

The BKS has directly targeted Modi publishing and circulating literature that mocks the Chief Minister's "claims of farmer welfare" and labels him a "propagandist”.

"Those who are not with Farmer Welfare, we oppose them,” says Senjalia.

But the BJP prefers to steer its election campaign solely on the vibrant Gujarat motto.

"Our farmers get 24 hours electricity, that's a big deal,” says BJP spokesperson, Vijay Rupani.

Farmers across Saurashtra are now raising their voice against the State government's policies.

Can the Congress use this issue to their advantage or will Chief Minister Modi's big ticket to development- 24-hour electricity to farmers, work in his favour?

Any attempts to muzzle the agitation of lakhs of Gujarat farmers could have a domino effect and plough through the outcome of the polls.

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