A day after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan blamed the the election commission for not making any policy decision related to the minimum support price of cotton, the state election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan rubbished all such claims.
Refusing to buy CM's argument, Satyanarayan told HT that the state government had failed in convincing the election commission about the seriousness of farmers' plight.
"The government wrote to me that it was considering increase in the minimum support price of cotton. It did not tell me as to how the issue affected the distressed farmers and did not ask me to consider the decision as a special case," Satyanarayan said.
Chavan expressed his inability to declare any decision on the cotton price or providing any financial assistance to farmers citing the model code of conduct for the local self-government polls scheduled to be held on December 8. The plight of cotton farmers is a sensitive issue for all parties because of the upcoming elections.
The model code of conduct, which comes into force 45 days before any polls, does not allow the governments to take policy decisions to lure/impress voters. However, the election commission allows some exceptions, when it is convinced of public interest and seriousness of a particular decision.
Satyanarayan said that she did bar the government from deriving a political advantage from such (populist) decision making. "In a similar manner, I stopped Mr Sharad Pawar from announcing some package for banana growers and also issued directives for a programme which was supposed to be attended by the prime minister."
The commissioner, who has served the government in several senior positions, said if it was so concerned about farmers' welfare, it would have taken the decision much before the minimum support price for cotton was declared.
A BJP legislator Girish Mahajan is fasting to demand better price for cotton while a Ravi Rana broke his fast on Sunday after the CM assured him action.