The Maharashtra government’s decision not to announce farm loan waivers in the state budget on Saturday, instead wait for the Centre to take a call, had the Opposition parties, who had demanded it, riled up.
Several members tried to disrupt the budget presentation. Opposition legislators even burnt copies of the budget outside the Legislature protest.
But the Shiv Sena, after nine days of aggressively stalling house proceedings in its demand for the waiver, was calm on Saturday when the state revealed its budget for 2017-18.
The party’s change in stance comes after CM Devendra Fadnavis met Union finance minister Arun Jaitley along with Sena ministers, and after two state cabinet meetings in which the Sena ministers were assured the government will work out something on farm loans.
As a result, when Opposition legislators were creating ruckus during the budget speech, Sena legislators remained seated.
As Mungantiwar presented the budget in the Assembly, his deputy, minister of state for finance Deepak Kesarkar, who is from the Sena, presented the budget in the Legislative Council.
As part of their protests, the Opposition sang bhajans and used cymbals to disrupt the finance minister’s speech.
Sena minister Ramdas Kadam, who holds the environment portfolio in the Fadnavis-led government, said, “The chief minister has conveyed he is in favour of making farmers debt-free and helping them become eligible for institutional credit again. He took up the issue with the Union finance minister. The budget speech also says the government is committed to this cause. There is no point in unnecessarily protesting when the state has said it is positive about a farm loan waiver.”
Kadam said the entire episode was a victory of the Shiv Sena and its party chief Uddhav Thackeray, as they were the ones who got the government to agree to its demand to help farmers of the state.
Leader of the Opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, called the state government’s decision to not announce the loan waiver a “betrayal”.
“The state government has cheated farmers by making a promise for a loan waiver. The citizens were betrayed, cheated, and disappointed by this budget,” Patil said.
He also said the budget would take the state backwards.