On the back foot following demands of resignation from the Opposition as well as censure from within the party, Maharashtra Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) president Raosaheb Danve on Thursday tendered an apology for his remarks on farmers.
In a party meeting in Jalna on Wednesday, Danve was allegedly caught on camera using derogatory language while speaking about farmers with respect to procurement of pigeon pea (tur dal) by the state government from them.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Danve said it was an interaction with the party workers of the Jalna district, on May 10, when he commented on the procurement issue. Danve said he explained the procurement crisis to the party workers and the language used or remarks passed had nothing to do with farmers but were in reference to some of the party workers.
“I am a farmer and have been in the active politics for more than 35 years. It was a session of interaction with the party workers, who have been given a task of going to farmers to explain government’s achievements in the state and at the Centre. When a worker asked questions about crisis of tur, I was explaining the government’s decision of procuring 1 lakh metric tonne tur in addition to the procurement already done. There was no question of using any foul language for the farmers. The interaction between us should not be linked with the farmers. However I apologise if anybody’s sentiments are hurts,” the statement reads.
Danve’s apology came after a few in the BJP felt that the issue might escalate and dent the party’s image, especially at a time when it was being targeted by the Opposition as well as its ally Shiv Sena for being ‘anti-farmers’. BJP is being targeted by the Opposition on the issue of loan waiver and falling agriculture prices for producers.
Protests were staged at several places in the state with workers of Opposition parties burning Danve’s effigies. Shiv sainiks too protests against Danve.
Slamming Danve, Congress state president Ashok Chavan said the BJP should clear its stand on Danve remarks while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sought his resignation.
This is also not the first time that Danve’s statements have courted controversy. Recently, the senior politician had asked if farmers would give in writing that the suicides would stop if their loans were waived following which Sena criticised him through its mouthpiece Saamana.