Nagpur: Critical Vidarbha Legislator Ends Week-Long Fast

Nagpur, Nov 20 (IANS): Independent legislator from Vidarbha Ravi Rana ended his seven-day long hunger strike Sunday after an embarrassed Maharashtra government assured him that the pricing issue raised by cotton and soya farmers would be resolved.

The 32-year-old Rana was rushed to a Nagpur hospital Saturday after his condition became critical with swelling in his kidneys, chest pain and a sharp fall of over 10 kgs in his weight, his wife Navneet Kaur told reporters.

Alarmed by his deteriorating condition Sunday morning, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan deputed Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil as his emissary to convince Rana to end his fast.

Vikhe-Patil also handed over a letter from Chavan to Rana -- elected from Badnera town, Amravati -- appealing to him withdraw his indefinite hunger strike and invited him to an all-party meeting in Mumbai Wednesday.

"Chief Minister Chavan and several cabinet ministers including Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Narayan Rane, Balasaheb Thorat, Shivajirao Moghe and others spoke to me and appealed to end the fast. After getting the CM's written assurance today that the matter would be resolved Wednesday, I decided to end my hunger strike," Rana said from his bed in the hospital's ICU.

Rana has been demanding a wholesale price of Rs.6,000 per quintal for cotton farmers to improve their financial lot and halt the growing suicides in eastern Maharashtra's Vidarbha region.

However, Rana has warned the government that in case a decision is not finalised in the all-party meeting, he would launch another indefinite hunger strike.

Rana was arrested for agitating over the issue last week and he launched his indefinite hunger fast inside jail, before he was shifted to a hospital in Amravati and then to Nagpur.

A supporter of the ruling Democratic Front alliance, Rana's hunger strike embarrassed the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party, especially since the winter session of the state legislature begins mid-December in Nagpur, in the heart of Vidarbha.

Unable to control her tears, Rana's actress wife Navneet Kaur said it was regretful how the ruling alliance and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar ignored Rana's fight for justice to farmers until his condition became critical.

"If this is what a legislator supporting the government must undergo, then the plight of the poor farmers can be imagined. It only proves that they do not bother about the people and their sufferings," she said.


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Title: Nagpur: Critical Vidarbha Legislator Ends Week-Long Fast

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