The BJP found itself cornered not just by the opposition parties, but also by its ally, Shiv Sena, over the debate on the agrarian crisis in the state during the budget session of the Maharashtra legislature.
Sena leaders warned the state government, in which their party is an ally, that the farmers will vote them out of power in the same manner as the Congressled government was dislodged in last year’s Assembly elections. Sena’s attack comes a day after party chief Uddhav Thackeray issued a diktat that they should stand up for the interest of the farmers and the common man.
The development will be a cause of worry for the BJP, which was hoping to sail through the month-long budget session without any hiccups.
Anticipating trouble from the Congress and NCP, the government on its own brought in a motion to discuss the farmers’ problems. However, it found itself at the receiving end after its ally also launched an attack.
Arjun Khotkar, Shiv Sena MLA f rom Jalna, said t he government, which had promised to bring ‘achche din’ for the voters, have failed to offer adequate financial assistance. “The Congress-led government had given Rs6,000 a quintal as minimum support price for cotton, but the incumbent government has given only Rs4,000 to the farmers,” he said.
Gulabrao Patil, Sena’s Jalgaon Rural MLA, alleged that BJP ministers were being biased. Criticising agriculture minister Eknath Khadse, who too hails from the Jalgaon, Patil said the minister’s constituency was given more compensation out of crop insurance, while his constituency was left out. “Similar is the situation in other parts of the state. About 150 MLAs have been elected by the farmer dominated constituencies. If the government does not act on time, the farmers would not hesitate to show us the way out,” said Patil. Another Sena MLA, Uday Samant from Ratnagiri, said the government machinery had failed to conduct the survey of the loss of cash crops such as mango and cashew.
Earlier in the day, NCP’s Jayant Patil took a dig at the government alleging that the farmers who participated in ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ with PM Narendra Modi, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections last year, are committing suicides. He said Vithal Rathod, a farmer from Dabhadi in Yavatmal, who was part of the farmers’ groups that interacted with Modi in March 2014, committed suicide in February this year.
The Sena’s attack on BJP in the legislature came hours before the former’s MPs abstained from voting for the land acquisition bill in the Lok Sabha. In Mumbai, around the same time, BEST committee chairman Arun Dudhvadkar, a Sena leader, wrote to the BEST general manager asking for the LED lights at Marine Drive to be replaced with yellow ones. The letter was written after the issue raised by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, who had criticised the way in which the project, a BJP initiative, was implemented without any tenders.
In the past week, Sena has already upped the ante against the BJP over several issues, including farmer suicides and compensation, the nuclear plant in Jaitapur, the Mumbai draft development plan (DP), highlighting that not all is well between the allies. Unless the BJP makes some quick moves to win back the trust of its partner, it seems the Sena would stand firm against its ally, while still being part of the government.