Nagpur: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday visited Yavatmal district and met with ailing farmers suffering from infection after spraying pesticides.
However, the visit was kept under wraps until Saturday evening, and even Shiv Sena MLA from Darhavha and the Minister of State for Revenue, Sanjay Rathod, was not in the loop.
“I am astounded that the CM came to my district. Even though I belong to a different political party, I am the peoples’ representative. I will definitely ask the CM as to why I was kept away. I will also inquire as to why the administration did not inform others about it. I will raise this issue with party president Uddhav Thackeray,” Mr. Rathod told a local news channel in Yavatmal.
Devanand Pawar, convener of Shetkari Nyay Hakka Samiti, who has been raising the farmers’ issues, claimed that he was not allowed to meet the CM by the police.
“The CM is scared of farmers. I had been followed by policemen since early morning. All the workers of our group were kept under house arrest because the CM suddenly woke up to the crisis. Why did the CM have to come like a thief? It was a failed visit as he did not interact with the Opposition leader,” said Mr. Pawar. The Congress leader also alleged that even the media was not informed about the visit. “The administration did not want anyone to ask questions to Mr. Fadnavis.”
Mr. Pawar had criticised Mr. Fadnavis for visiting the neighbouring Nanded district for a political campaign, but turning a blind eye to Yavatmal even after 23 farmers’ death.
Shrikant Raut, a Yavatmal-based journalist with a Marathi news channel, said reporters were not allowed inside the hospital when the CM visited farmers. “Some youth Congress workers in black clothes were detained. Press persons were not even allowed inside the collector office where the CM chaired a review meeting. The CM’s byte was emailed to us by the district information office (DIO), and was uploaded on YouTube,” said Mr. Raut.
Superintendent of Police Rajkumar, however, denied that the visit was kept secretive. “There were media people present during the CM’s visit, and the CM also gave an elaborate byte. All the arrangement was security-related,” the SP claimed.
Mr. Fadnavis, in his byte uploaded on YouTube, said he had ordered strict action against companies selling pesticides without licence.
“I visited the Yavatmal GMC and met with the farmers affected by pesticide poisoning. Almost all the patients are in a better condition and the patients in the ICU are out of danger. The government has acted extremely fast since the day one. The SIT is inquiring into it. We are also making some structural changes and there is a need to amend the Central law as well,” said Mr. Fadnavis.