Vidarbha, ground zero of farmer suicides, could desert Congress too

Maharashtra, which appeared difficult to call until even February, is now increasingly veering away from the Congress-NCP regime, it appears from data gleaned from the Lokniti, CSDS-IBN prepoll survey of March.



The region-wise analysis of voter preferences according to the CSDS-Lokniti survey shows that it is only in Western Maharashtra, home to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's constituency, that the Congress-NCP is comfortably ahead of its rivals. The Snea-BJP leads in all other regions -- North Maharashtra, Mumbai-Thane and Konkan. In Marathwada, home to the most backward districts of the state, will see the two alliances in a neck and neck contest.

For the Congress, the loss of support in Vidarbha, a traditional Congress bastion, will hurt the party where it matters and also sounds warning bells for the party which will be preparing for Assembly polls to be held in October this year.

Not only is the region politically very active, having demanded statehood for Vidarbha for several years now, but successive Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee presidents in the past decade have also belonged to Vidarbha. It is an indication of the rising clout of the region in the state's affairs that Ranjit Deshmukh, Prabha Rau and then Manikrao Thakre were selected to lead the Maharashtra Congress. Recent locla body polls also saw the Congress manage to retain its supremacy in the large region.

But Vidarbha is also one of the major cotton growing areas of the country, and home to one of the largest ever spates of farmer suicides, indication of a crippling agragrian crisis in parts of the state.

The region specific vote divide in Maharashtra.

The region specific vote divide in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra has seen over 3,000 farmer suicides each year for the past several years (3786 in 2012, 3337 in 2011 and 3141 in 2010), the majority of the victims said to be from Vidarbha. Narendra Modinot only visited Yavatmal district in Vidarbha on his latest Maharashtra visit but also held a Chai Pe Charcha on the issue of challenges faced by the agriculture sector. The Aam Aadmi Party, which has campaigned hard in Vidarbha after having first publicised many details of the irrigation scam, could not host Kejriwal who took ill on his Nagpur visit.

At frequent intervals, Vidarbha's Congress leaders have spoken out against "injustice" to the region at the hands of politically powerful leaders from Western Maharashtra. Their constant complaint has been that Vidarbha gets step-motherly treatment.

Updated Date: Apr 03, 2014 10:18 AM

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