No wave in Maharashtra's soya-cotton belt, local factors take the lead | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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No wave in Maharashtra's soya-cotton belt, local factors take the lead

Apr 22, 2024 10:04 AM IST

Promise of ‘achche din’ resonated here in 2014, so did the surge in national pride following air strikes in Balakot in 2019 and local problems were put aside

Nagpur: The kastkars are unhappy with the BJP government at the centre, says Samadhan Dhudate-Patil, a farmer from Buldhana, using the Vidarbha language term for farmers. “We have not been getting a fair value for our crops like soybeans and cotton. We voted for Prime minister Narendra Modi in the last elections but he failed to protect our interests. This time we will consider local equations while voting,” he said.

A cotton farmer in Yavatmal district. Soya and cotton farmers say they have not been getting a fair price for their produce (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
A cotton farmer in Yavatmal district. Soya and cotton farmers say they have not been getting a fair price for their produce (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)

His response is common in western Vidarbha, indicating the absence of a wave and the importance of local factors. Common people as well as many kastkars across western Vidarbha – known as the cotton and soyabean belt of Maharashtra – voted for the BJP in a perceived Modi wave in the last elections. The promise of ‘achche din’ resonated here in 2014, so did the surge in national pride following air strikes in Balakot in 2019. Local problems were put in the backburner and didn’t quite figure in the political discourse then.

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But the situation has changed on the ground now. Telling party workers to not take the elections for granted, Amaravati MP Navneet Rana said: “Don’t depend on Modi wave. Party workers should work hard to reach out to voters and convince them.”

Though it sparked a controversy and she tried to backtrack later, her exhortation did contain truth, political activists here say. Farmers, youth and common folk are vocal over issues related to agriculture prices, unemployment, inflation and so on. They question the governance record of the BJP government.

Samadhan Patil, who’s family together owns around 35 acres of land, was aggressively speaking against central government policies that, he said, brought down the prices of soyabean below the Minimum Support Price of 4,600. “The common farmers in the region have suffered an average loss of around 50,000 to 1,00,000 depending on the size of the farmland. Besides that we have to spend around 30% to 40% extra than earlier for inputs such as fertilizers and insecticides,” said Samadhan.

Raju Nawade, who runs a shop of agriculture-related goods at Babhulgaon tehsil in Yavatmal district, says farmers who visit the shop are vocal about their anger over having to sell their produce cheap. When HT spoke to Rajendra Nagbeedkar who had come to Nawade’s shop, he said that besides the agrarian crisis another issue is the behaviour of ruling party leaders. “They distributed sarees for free to the women. It was under a government scheme but the quality of the sarees was so bad that no woman could wear it. It was nothing but arrogance that they insulted the women from poor families,” he said.

Pramod Pawar, a farmer from Yavatmal, said that he voted for PM Modi hoping for ‘acche din’ but farmers are paying a price for it while traders are enjoying good days. “I had to sell pulses (tur) at 9,000 per quintal. The price in shops is around 11,400. May it be soyabean, cotton or other products, traders are enjoying and we farmers are suffering. So this time we will consider another option,” said Pawar.

Arun Deshkar and Subhash Tembhare, two retired government staff at the Yavatmal-Washim Lok Sabha constituency, said that central government policies indirectly exploit the middle class and the common man. “Central government policies have resulted in inflation. The prices of medicines have increased significantly. The price of petrol and gas touched new highs in the last 10 years. The total monthly expenditure has increased, and our savings are affected,” said Arun Deshkar.

Subhash Tembhare said that the policies of the BJP-led government at the centre and state have created unrest in society as they promoted hatred among different communities. “Besides Hindu-Muslim, now they have created rifts between Maratha and OBC. Such an environment in society is not good. It affects me on a personal level too sometimes. The problem of employment for youth has turned into a serious problem. So now we will consider local political equations more while voting, “ said Tembhare.

A leader from Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde, on the condition of anonymity, said they too feel the absence of a wave and the elections will test the strengths of local leaders. Local caste and political equations and the candidates’ ability to win over the voters would decide. “In comparison to the last two elections, the basic change on the ground is the absence of the Modi wave. Modi is a factor but one of the factors like caste combinations in constituency, candidate selections, local issues and so on. For BJP-Shiv Sena, it would be a tougher election than the past two Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

He also said that the delayed decision regarding candidates and seat sharing between BJP and Shinde is an indicator of the absence of the wave. Selecting candidates was very important since that would decide the results, he added.

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