Rahul Gandhi to pay tributes to HMT rice innovator

Nagpur: Congress president Rahul Gandhi is visiting Vidarbha on Wednesday. He will go to the house of rice innovator Dadaji Khobragade who died last Sunday.
After paying condolences and meeting his kin at Nanded village in Sindewahi taluka of Chandrapur district, about 100 km from here, Rahul will address a farmers’ ‘chaupal’ at the same village.

Khobragade, who revolutionized paddy farming by developing the high yielding variety of rice HMT, never got commercial dividends from it as state agencies, including the agriculture university, usurped the credit. He lived in penury and could not afford even medical treatment following a paralysis attack in his last days. CM Devendra Fadnavis did sanction 2.5 lakh from his relief fund, but it was too late as he breathed his last at SEARCH Hospital at Gadchiroli.

Meanwhile, in a game of political oneupmanship, the BJP MP from Chandrapur and Union minister of state for Home, Hansraj Ahir, rushed to Nanded village and consoled the bereaved family of Khobragade on Monday.

In the week since Dadaji died, no top leader from the ruling party found time for the visit. But as soon as the news of Rahul Gandhi’s plan was announced, the BJP leaders have darted towards the village.

Chimur MLA Kiritkumar Bhangadia accompanied Ahir and they promised the Khobragade family that an entrance gate to the village will be built as a memorial to the deceased rice researcher.

A hospital in the district will also be named after Dadaji Khobragade as a mark of respect to him.

Meanwhile, in a game of political oneupmanship, the BJP MP from Chandrapur and Union minister of state for Home, Hansraj Ahir, rushed to Nanded village and consoled the bereaved family of Dadaji Khobragade on Monday evening.

In the week since Dadaji died, no top leader from the ruling party found time for the visit. But as soon as the news of Rahul Gandhi’s plan was announced, the BJP leaders desperately darted towards the village.

Chimur MLA Kiritkumar Bhangadia accompanied Ahir and they promised the Khobragade family that an entrance gate to the village will be built as a memorial to the deceased rice researcher. A hospital in the district will also be named after him as a mark of respect to him.

This will be Rahul Gandhi’s first visit after becoming president of his party and a non-election-time visit after three years. In 2015, he had undertaken a 15-km padyatra and met families of nine farmers who had ended life in the distress-ridden region that has witnessed thousands of farm suicides in the last over a decade.

But what captured national headlines in 2008 was his famous visit to farmer widow Kalavati Bandurkar at Jalka village and Shashikala Ringne of Sonkhaas village, both in Yavatmal district, the epicentre of farmers’ suicides in the cotton belt of Vidarbha. He referred to Kalavati’s plight during parliamentary debate on Indo-US pact for peaceful use of nuclear power.

State Congress president Ashok Chavan told TOI that objective of Rahul’s visit was to pay tributes to Khobragade. A farmers’ meet called ‘chaupal’ was also organised by the party in which the party president is expected to target the BJP-led Narendra Modi government that had failed to fulfil promises given to farmers. Modi had in March 2014, during Lok Sabha election campaign, held a ‘Chai pe charcha’ with farmers at Dabhadi village in Yavatmal district, but many of the promises he handed out then are yet to be realised, Chavan said.

Rahul will land in Nagpur from Mumbai on Wednesday around 11am and take off by helicopter to Nanded village were a helipad is being built. He will spend an hour-and-half there and hop back to Nagpur from where he is to fly back to Delhi.

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