Mumbai, March 19 (IANS) Alarmed by the renewed spate of farmers' suicides - at least 32 since Sunday - Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Wednesday appealed to them not to end their lives.
The chief minister said in a statement that the government is well aware of the plight of the farmers affected by the recent unseasonal rains and severe hailstorms which hit 28 of the state's 35 districts.
"I assure all my farmer brethren that we stand solidly behind you. I request that please don't be carried away by emotions or helplessness. We are doing our best to help you," Chavan said.
He pointed out that since the model code of conduct is currently in force, the state government is in the process of disbursing aid and relief as per the standing instructions.
Directions have also been issued to the concerned agencies to rush relief.
Chavan also said he has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other union ministers and sought aid of Rs.5,000 crore for the farmers.
"I also met the Election Commission officials and apprised them of the havoc wreaked in the state. The prime minister set up a high-level committee headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar with other ministers like Sushilkumar Shinde, P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and M.S. Ahluwalia, while a central team has completed its assessment of the damage," Chavan said.
Chavan's statement assumes significance in the wake of the recent threats by the farming community of Vidarbha to exercise the NOTA (None Of The Above) option during the elections if aid is not given before April 10.
In a related development, angry Vidarbha farmers plan to demand 10 percent representation in parliament and legislatures from BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who will launch his 2014 election campaign from Wardha Thursday.
"There is so much depression that some have gone to the main village square and hanged themselves publicly... VJAS and other NGOs console and counsel them, but they feel there is nobody in the government or politicians to take up their cause," Kishore Tiwari, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief, told IANS.