V Dinesh Kumar allegedly took poison on May 25 because he was under pressure over unpaid loans.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rahul Gandhi, in his first act as lawmaker from Kerala’s Wayanad, wrote to the state Chief Minister asking for an inquiry into a farmer suicide. And he received a prompt response, urging him to raise the subject in parliament.
V Dinesh Kumar’s family alleges he took poison on May 25 because he was under pressure over unpaid loans.
“Saddened by death of farmer Dinesh Kumar. His family claims he was under immense stress of not being able to repay loans and was forced to commit suicide,” Rahul Gandhi wrote in his letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Congress president said the death was “not isolated” and that Wayanad had seen many farmer suicides over unpaid loans.
The Kerala government had announced a moratorium, he said, but farmers were still being hounded by loans agents.
“I write to you asking for probe into the circumstances of Dinesh’s death and for financial aid to his family. It is important to free our farmers from vicious debt traps, given the devastating long term impact of the 2018 floods,” he wrote.
He added: “I offer you my fullest support and cooperation in finding concrete long-term solutions to the critical issues Kerala’s farmers are faced with and in ensuring every farmer in Kerala lives a life of dignity.”
Pinarayi Vijayan swiftly responded, saying his government had announced a moratorium on repayment of farm loans this year and that it was up to the centre to decide on loans from commercial banks.
“Farmers across India are facing trouble in repaying loans due to high interests by commercial banks and informal lenders. Loans from commercial banks come under SARFAESI Act, and under this it is for the government of India to take a considered stand regarding outstanding debt of farmers,” wrote Mr Vijayan.
“The issue needs to be raised in Parliament and hope you will join us in raising the issue of inability of farmers to repay loans in Kerala and other parts of India,” he added, assuring that he had asked Wayanad officials for an inquiry into the suicide.
Rahul Gandhi contested from a second constituency for the first time in this month’s national election. He won by a huge margin from Wayanad on his debut there, but lost his traditional Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh to the BJP’s Smriti Irani.
Since his defeat, which sums up the Congress’s collapse in the election, Rahul Gandhi has told his party that he will not continue as party president.