CM Naidu Faces Rs. 5.5 crores ordeal

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Hyderabad: A week before he killed himself, Simhadri Venkateshwar Rao, a tobacco farmer, wrote a letter to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu with a question. If he could spend cores on customizing a bus for his own safety, is a farmer’s life worth nothing?

“For the sake of other farmers, I am ready to sacrifice my life,” Rao said in the letter that was also addressed to the Centre. The 49-year-old, who was from the West Godavari district, was neck deep in loans taken for medical expenses, his children’s education and rent.

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He left no suicide note, but his last letter, to the Chief Minister was addressed that “The Chief Minister, for his own safety, has spent Rs. 5.5 core on modifying a (state transport) bus. If his life is so valuable, a tobacco farmer’s suicide brings his family on the road. Isn’t it the Chief Minister’s responsibility to ensure that even one farmer doesn’t commit suicide?”

The bus that the farmer referred to was commissioned by Mr. Naidu last year when he decided to tour the state to monitor the impact of Cyclone Hudhud. The vehicle worked as a makeshift office with a sofa, television and tele-conferencing screen, besides a small bedroom.

Rao said 14,000 tobacco farmers like him were deep in debt and “had started committing suicide. “It is not clear whether the letter reached the Chief Minister; it was shared by his neighbor. The police deny the matter and say he killed himself because he had family problems and had separated from his wife three months ago.

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