The chief asked me to interview a typical farmer and find out how he felt about this being his decade. So I took a local to Badlapur, got out of the station and went to the nearest farm. The farmer was replanting his paddy crop while at the same time looking up critically at the sky.
"So, what do you think of the 90's being declared the decade of the farmers?" I asked, pad and ballpen ready.
The farmer took another look at the skies, also critically, and said: "The rains have been good this year. But they should stop now, otherwise all the good work they have done so far will be ruined."
"Yes, yes," I said, "but how do you feel about your decade? One entire decade, from 1990 to 2000, especially for you. Jai Kisan."
The farmer went across to a vegetable patch, straightened some creepers bearing tindlis, examined a bush of green tomatoes, the said: "What they require now is a spot of sunshine. Not direct sunlight, you understand, the tomatoes are still too tender for that, but filtered sunlight. A couple of days of that would be just right."
"Look," I said, "I want to know whether Mr. V.P. Singh meant it when he said that this was going to be the decade of the kisan or you thought it was just an election ploy. And, if you think it is an election ploy, will you fall for it. I mean. You and all the other kisans."
The farmer considered my question for a moment then said: "This is the best monsoon we have had in years and years, at least in this part pf Maharastra. The unusally havy rains, and especially the last three days' almost continuous downpour, are likely to bring the temperatures down. Which would be good for the kharif crop."
"I can't just stand here discussing country weather," I waid. "The country weather," I said. "The chief will not pass my voucher for Badlapur if that is all I have to report. I have come here specially to investigate the farm lobby's thinking vis-a-vis the prime minister's announcement, especially in context of the removal of the deputy prime minister. So, tell me."
The farmer took another critical look at the sky and said: "I think, it is going to rain, very heavy, in another 30 seconds."
It did. And since I did not have an umbrella, I rushed back to the station.