The BJP government is playing favourites big time. Or how else do we justify the 600 acres of land given away to yoga guru and businessman Baba Ramdev in Maharashtra? The rich land haul that Ramdev acquired for his Patanjali Yogpeeth to set up different units in the Vidarbha region, is in stark contrast to the miseries of people from the state, who are dying due to agrarian crisis.
Only last month, BJP MP Hema Malini was in the news for a land-grabbing controversy. The veteran actress was accused of acquiring a prime-location plot in Mumbai at a throwaway price of the 70s. The plot was given away to Hema Malini for opening a dance school.
What intrigues me is that there is a lot of land to be given away in Maharashtra to people that BJP favours. In a matter of 30 days, two people have acquired subsidised land for being associated with the party.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Nagpur, stated that the Maharashtra government (ruled by BJP) was allotting 347 acres of land at the Multi-Modal International Cargo Hub and Airport (MIHAN) for setting up a food processing unit. Of this, 108 acres will be in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Gadkari added that another 200 acres will be allotted to Patanjali for setting up an orange processing unit.
That land acquisitions are mere show of power-plays, is further proved by Himachal Pradesh’s recent decision to revoke the land lease that was granted to Ramdev. Back in 2010, the BJP regime under chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, had allotted 28 acres on lease to the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust. The land, whose worth was over Rs 35 crore, was allotted for 99 years to the trust on a lease of Rupee 1!
But Ramdev, who has shrewd business acumen, is not losing sleep over this. A mere 28 acres in Himachal is nothing, when he now has 600 acres of land in his kitty. In an attempt to sweet-coat the bitter pill, Nitin Gadkari said Patanjali will train tribals of the region to grow herbs that are used in ayurvedic medicine. Also the trust has focussed on the miseries of Vidarbha farmers, and plans to employ them in its upcoming units.
We would say, that’s plain hogwash! If the Maharashtra government was so keen on helping farmers from Vidarbha, why not give it to them at subsidised rates? There are various advanced methods to promote community farming, and the 600-acres of land could have been well-utilised by the famers to fight their acute financial crisis.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report says that Maharashtra has the highest number of suicides by distressed farmers. It’s a shame that while farmers in Vidarbha commit suicides for not being able to repay loan of Rs 10,000, the state government is indulging in making the rich only richer.
According to a report published in the Hindustan Times, from 2012 to April 2015, a total of 3,145 farmers committed suicide in the six districts in Vidarbha region. One in four farmers driven to suicide was under 30, a study stated. According to the NCRB, in 2014 of the 5,650 farmers who ended their lives across the country, a total of 2,568 were from Maharashtra.
Also, there are hundreds of small entrepreneurs in India who could have made good use of the land. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two ambitious campaigns, Make in India and Startup India, aim to promote the indigenous talent and resources of the nation. If the land was subsidised to the young guns, it could have killed two birds in one shot!
Ramdev’s FMCG empire is already flourishing, and worth 2,500 crore. He should have been the last person to acquire discounted land to expand his business.