July 12, 2015 12:00:27 am
It has been over a year since Bapu Maharaj Raokar, a senior leader of the Warkari sect, had actively campaigned for the victory of the BJP and Shiv Sena candidates in Raigad. Back then, Raokar had justified his decision on the grounds that the NCP-Congress dispensation was against the Warkari community and also corrupt. However, a year since the BJP stormed into power, Raokar has been feeling disillusioned.
“This government has moved away from its focus, they no longer want to work for the farmer or the Warkari community,” he said.
With the state at the brink of a major agrarian crisis due to truant rains, members of the Warkari community now face another year of failed crops. The prospects of re-sowing looming large, the main question before the community is finance. While crop loans are issued by financial institutions, garnering finances for the resowing become a major issue for the farmers.
The state has seen a drastic rise in farmer suicides in the past few years with the drought-hit Marathwada region recording a sharp rise in such cases. The present agrarian crisis has had its repercussion felt in the powerful Warkari community given the close ties it has with the farming community.
Roakar, talking about his disillusionment, said it was sad that the BJP government had lost its focus. “As Warkari leaders we have grassroot connections. During the elections we had used those connections to ensure the present government wins. But now when we see them neglecting the farmer and the Warkari community we are pained,” he said.
This year the Palkhi procession of Sant Dnyaneshwar was halted near the Sangamwadi bridge as the Warkaris were agitated about the recent ban on use of the banks of Chandrabhaga river in Pandharpur. The ban was imposed by the Bombay High Court while hearing a public interest petiton and the Warkari community wants the ban to be lifted. Rameshwar Maharaj Shastri of the All India Warkari Sena said the government should approach the Supreme Court to remove the ban. “It’s a question of faith,” he said.
But the inability of the government to counter the agrarian crisis is the major issue which has the community agitated the most. Chandeo Gore’s, a Warkari from the Dhamangaon taluka of Parbhani, had seen a suicide not 10 kms from his village. “When there is no hope in sight, what else can one do? There is hardly any one who comes to the villages to see the situation,” he said.
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