Onions lie near the dais from which Pawar addressed a rally on Sunday
Hail of onions cuts short Pawar speech
Monday, April 03, 2006
NASHIK: Events took an unexpected turn for Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday when farmers who had gathered to hear him at a rally began hurling onions at the dais.
Pawar was in Vithewadi, Deola, to address a rally at the Vasantdada co-operative sugar factory. The rally was organised by former BJP minister Daulatrao Aher, a new entrant to Pawar’s NCP. The aim was to pacify the aggrieved farmers of the region and display Aher’s strength.
With onions fetching low prices, farmers in this onion-growing belt are in dire straits. The government’s announcement that exports will be increased has not helped them, burdened as they are by loans.
The farmers had hoped that Pawar would announce a relief package. But when, after hearing a string of dignitaries, including state ministers RR Patil, Harshwardhan Patil, and Chhagan Bhujbal, Pawar started speaking to them of cutting expenses and reducing their loans, they lost their cool. Pawar suggested that if a farmer has two sons, he should send one to the farm and train the second for a job, to decrease dependence on agriculture. This angered the farmers who were expecting empathy and they began hurling onions.
The pandemonium forced Pawar to cut short his speech and leave the dais. This is said to be the first time in the Maratha strongman’s career that he has had to face such a situation, that too at a farmers’ rally in Maharashtra.
Is it appropriate for ministers to enjoy chicken parties and tie turbans when farmers are committing suicide? All they were interested in was welcoming new entrants— Dr Girdhar Patil, Shetkari Sanghatana organiser
Rubbish. There were 60,000 people at the rally. At the end, 20 workers of the Shetkari Sanghatana asked me to talk about onion prices. But not a single onion was thrown — Sharad Pawar
Pawar had planned to address the farmers’ concerns, but the Shetkari Sanghatana did not accept his assurance that he will come to the issue. But the rally was successful — NCP legislator Vasant Pawar