Be it for survey or as a token gesture, all political parties in the state are heading to the drought-hit Marathwada region, which faces an unprecedented water crisis that is set to worsen as summer advances.
In the first week of March, more than 20 ministers from the state cabinet visited the villages in Marathwada and also conducted a cabinet meeting at Latur to avoid criticism during the budget session. In a bid to show the government was serious in tackling drought, the government had announced various measures, including new water schemes and restructuring of loans of farmers for Marathwada. Last week, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray visited Marathwada and attended a community wedding ceremony. His estranged cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is on a ten-day tour of the parched region. Although he has been getting flak for scheduling the tour around his hearings, Raj has been using the opportunity to attack the state over its “failed policies”.
Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule also visited the villages in drought-affected areas on Thursday and Friday. Demanding the water supply to liquor factories be cut, she said proper planning by the government would have minimized the impact of water shortage. Leaders of opposition in both the houses, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Dhananjay Munde, and others, too, have paid a visit to the distressed region and attacked the government for its failure to mitigate drought.
During the six-week budget session, the Opposition ensured the drought situation was debated and the government was made to reply on various subjects every week.
Meanwhile, Congress state chief Ashok Chavan on Friday said their key leaders would tour the drought affected areas between May 5 and 7. “The state has failed in getting adequate resources to fight the drought,” he said. “The Congress leaders will tour the areas and assess the ground reality. We will also check if the announcements made during the cabinet meeting at Latur have been fulfilled.”
He said former chief ministers Prithviraj Chavan, Narayan Rane, and other leaders namely Patangrao Kadam and Harshavardhan Patil will participate in the tour.