Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indian Express

Will contest polls, Rahul should back me: Kalavati

Vivek Deshpande Posted online: Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009 at 0908 hrs
Nagpur : Barely three days after she declared she would contest Assembly elections, farm widow Kalavati appeared before the media on Tuesday and reaffirmed her decision after some reports said that she had only agreed to run for the polls as a candidate of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a Yavatmal-based socio-political organisation, under duress from its chief Kishore Tiwari. “I want to say there was no pressure from Tiwari. I want to contest for the 6,000 farm widows,” she told reporters.

A local newspaper had published an interview with Kalavati on Tuesday in which she was reported to have alleged that Tiwari had been pressuring her to fight the Assembly polls and that she didn’t understand what election and politics were. On Tuesday, however, she said, “Slowly, I will understand everything.”

“She is being followed by media for the last two days. She hasn’t been able to sleep properly,” Tiwari said. When reminded that it was he who had brought her into the limelight by getting her to contest elections, Tiwari said, “I have no qualms about saying that VJAS does politics about Kalavati in the interest of farmers. We fight for farmers’ causes. I was the first to reach out to her after her husband committed suicide in 2005.” She will file papers on September 25, Tiwari said.

A steady flow of help has come Kalavati’s way after Rahul Gandhi visited her last year and narrated her plight in his Parliament speech. The biggest of them all was the announcement of Rs 33 lakh aid by Sulabh International, a Delhi-based sanitation NGO.

Strangely, Kalavati reportedly spoke out against Sulabh, saying they gave her only Rs 6 lakh so far and not the rest of the aid she was assured. Reminded of that, she blamed the media. “I read in newspapers,” she said. Sulabh had come in for criticism for focusing on a single woman rather than helping everyone in her village, Jalka. It later adopted the village for all-round development.

Meanwhile, Sulabh chief Bindeshwari Pathak on Monday issued a press statement in New Delhi, cautioning Kalavati against entering politics. She also advised her to avoid speaking against Rahul Gandhi saying, it was because of Rahul that she got so much aid, including from Sulabh. Pathak, however, made it clear that regardless of the circumstances Sulabh would continue to give Kalavati the promised aid.

Kalavati on Tuesday said, “Rahul Gandhi is not bad. But he should now support me in the polls.” Tiwari added: “Who will oppose her? She will be elected. Everyone will have to vote for her.”

He further said, “If it is going to stop her aid, then we will withdraw her. Some Jalka villagers are trying to scare her saying that she won’t get the remaining Sulabh money if she contests polls.” Asked if she would withdraw if Rahul requests her, Kalavati said, “If he solves the problems of all 6,000 farm widows, I would withdraw.”

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