Fadnavis has 30 days to pacify agitating farmers in Maharashtra, avoid another crisis
Mumbai city news: Fadnavis had told HT last week that this loan waiver itself would put the cash-strapped state back by two yearsmumbai Updated: Jun 26, 2017 23:51 IST
Even after announcing a Rs34,000-crore farm loan waiver touted to help 89 lakh farmers in Maharashtra, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ troubles are not over. He now has one month to win over farmers groups that are unhappy with the government’s offer and want a complete loan waiver.
The steering committee of farmers groups that met on Sunday decided to relaunch the agitation on July 26 unless the state government toed its line. While the BJP-led government managed to get conditional support of the Opposition by getting it to discuss the parameters of the waiver, the state appears to have alienated agitating farmers’ groups.
‘’It’s like we are back to square one. We got NCP chief Sharad Pawar on board, we discussed the decision with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and earlier meetings were held with farmers’ leaders. This U-turn by farmers is problematic. We can’t accuse them of politicising the issue but everyone knows that a blanket loan waiver is not feasible for the state, ‘’ said a senior BJP minister who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He added that if the farmers’ agitation continued the government would have to bring something else to the negotiating table because giving more funds was out of the question.
Fadnavis had told HT last week that this loan waiver itself would put the cash-strapped state back by two years, putting stress on all its fiscal parameters. An approximate 25 per cent cut on all development spending in the state is on the cards.
The state government in a bid to pacify farmers is planning to move legislation in the monsoon session of the legislature to strengthen the minimum support price for farm produce and set up a state level agriculture commission of costs and prices to decide the MSP.
This is because one of the central demands of farmers is implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation that they be paid 50 per cent over the weighted cost of production as MSP. This was also promised by BJP in its 2014 election manifesto and by Prime Minister Narendra Modi then in the run up to the polls.
But, this is easier said than done.
‘’Frankly, this is not a decision that can be taken at the state level. We can set up a state level commission of farmers as well as of agriculture prices but unless this is a pan India decision it will not work,’ said a senior bureaucrat.
To add to Fadnavis’ troubles, the opposition and ally Sena are likely to soon switch sides in support of farmers’ groups. Already Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has said that his party is on the side of farmers and Pawar has said he is not completely satisfied with the loan waiver.