Rahul Gandhi 'Sorry' for Nation's Apathy to Dalit Farmer-Scientist
File Image | Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Photo Credits: PTI)

Nagpur, June 13: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday visited the family of late Dalit farmer-scientist Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, and apologised for the nation's apathy to his achievements.

Gandhi paid tributes before a garlanded portrait of Khobragade at his home, where the walls are covered with several certificates, medals and honours for his lifetime contribution to agriculture.

"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 to condole with his family and to apologise for our apathy as a nation to his achievements," Gandhi later tweeted.

The Congress chief, accompanied by other senior leaders like Ashok Chavan and Ashok Gehlot, interacted with Khobragade's widow and children.

Khobragade, who had suffered a paralytic stroke, barely had resources for proper medical treatment, though aid belatedly came from the Chief Minister's Office.

He died on June 3, at his native village of Nanded. During his lifetime, Khobragade was credited for developing 11 high-yielding varieties of paddy, named HMT, after the famed watch-making company whose timepiece he always wore.

The HMT varieties of paddy had revolutionised farming in entire Vidarbha region, but he never got due recognition or financial benefits of his pathbreaking scientific breakthroughs.

In 2010, Forbes named him among the top seven rural entrepreneurs globally and was also awarded a medal of honour by the late Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Gandhi, who arrived here from Mumbai, is later scheduled to hold a "chaupal" (village meeting) with Nanded villagers before leaving for New Delhi after his two-day visit to the state.