In 2013, a stray remark by the then deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar, who, while responding to farmers’ demand for water said: “If there is no water in the dam, should we go and urinate,” had cost his government dearly. The comment gave the BJP a perfect stick to thrash the government with during the 2014 parliamentary and assembly polls. On Sunday, the BJP government in Maharashtra faced its ‘Ajit Pawar moment’ when an 84-year old farmer Dharma Patil died due to bureaucratic negligence.
Dharma Patil, a farmer from Dhule, had come to the Mantralaya (state secretariat) for a meeting with Energy Minister Chandrakant Bawankule on January 22. Patil was seeking to rectify a faulty compensation he received. He got just Rs 4 lakh for his 5 acres of land which was acquired for a thermal power plant in 2009. Patil’s contention was that a neighbouring farmer, with not even half the land that he had, got Rs 1.89 crore as compensation.
However, Bawankule’s office cancelled the meeting. A frustrated Dharma Patil, who had met several government officials before this, consumed poison in Mantralaya. He was admitted to the government-run JJ Hospital where he passed away on Sunday night.