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Rahul meets rice innovator’s kin, apologises for nation’s ‘apathy’ to his achievements

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today met the kin of late Dadaji Khobragade, the rural inventor who revolutionised rice farming, in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district and apologised for the nation’s “apathy” towards his achievements.

Khobragade had invented the revolutionary HMT variety of paddy, but died “largely forgotten and in penury”, Gandhi noted.

The 78-year-old rice innovator, a native of Nanded village in Chandrapur in Vidarbha region, died earlier this month after a prolonged illness in Gadchiroli district.

“Dadaji Khobragade, a Dalit farmer-scientist, invented the revolutionary HMT variety of paddy. But, he died largely forgotten and in penury. I visited his home in Nanded, Maharashtra, to condole with his family and to apologise for our apathy as a nation, to his achievements,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot, its Maharashtra unit chief Ashok Chavan and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accompanied Gandhi during the visit.

“Rahulji enquired about the various rice varieties he has developed. Rahulji was also keen to know how did their father (Khobragade) become so successful in developing so many varieties of paddy,” Chavan told PTI.

The issue of patenting the rice varieties was also discussed at the meeting with his family members, he said.

“Dadaji Khobragade developed 11 varieties of rice. However, none of them have been patented. The Congress has decided to follow up this issue with the state government and the Centre,” Chavan said.

Gandhi had a 20-minute meeting with Khobragade’s family members in which no other Congress leader was allowed, he said.

Later, the Congress president also held a ‘chaupal’, an interactive session with locals, at Nanded village, and attacked the BJP and the central government on a range of issues.

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