Maharashtra farmers’ strike: Shiv Sena ministers boycott state cabinet meeting
Mumbai city news: The party, instead, sought a clarification from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis over the farm loan waiver issuemumbai Updated: Jun 08, 2017 00:47 IST
As the farmers’ strike in the state continued on the seventh day, BJP ally Shiv Sena boycotted a cabinet meeting called by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday. The party, instead, sought a clarification from Fadnavis over the farm loan waiver issue.
The Sena is irked the chief minister did not consult its leadership before announcing a waiver of Rs30,000 crore for small farmers by October 31. The party wants to be an equal partner in governance, but claims Fadnavis is not taking it into confidence on all issues.
Senior Sena minister Subhash Desai said his party fully supports the farmers’ strike. “We will not attend cabinet meeting until the chief minister clears the government’s stand on the issue. The BJP has not discussed anything with us about the farm loan waiver,” Desai, who is heading industries department, told reporters.
Sena leaders even met the CM to make their stand clear before boycotting the meeting. The BJP, however, sought to play down the incident.
The Sena’s aggressive stand came a day after Fadnavis warned that the government had information that political parties were involved in the violent incidents that occurred during the June 5 Maharashtra Bandh called by farmers’ outfits. The Sena had taken part in the bandh along with other parties.
Senior BJP leader and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, however, maintained Sena ministers had sought prior permission from Fadnavis to not attend the cabinet meeting. “It was not a boycott. As there weren’t any important proposal to discuss, the CM granted permission,” Mungantiwar told the media. Sena ministers, however, insisted they had boycotted the meeting. Desai said the Sena was ready to resolve the impasse and support the BJP much like they did while passing the Goods and Services Tax bill, but only if the government discusses the farm loan issue with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also.
Farmers have gone on strike since June 1 in several districts of the state. Following protests started by various farmers’ groups especially in western and central Maharashtra, Fadnavis held talks with the representatives of these groups on Saturday and promised to waive off loans of small and marginal farmers with land holding up to five acres. The decision is expected to benefit 31 lakh farmers who have not been able to access crop loans for past 4-5 years. The Maharashtra government is likely to end up spending about Rs 30,000 crore to write off these loans. Fadnavis also announced that he would set up a committee of government officials which will have representatives of the farmers to work out details of the loan waiver.
On the other hand, the top brass of the BJP in the state is contemplating whether the party should opt for mid-term assembly polls in the state to end its reliance on the troublesome Sena. A section within the party’s senior leaders has suggested elections towards the end of the year after the farm loan waiver comes into effect.
Meanwhile, a 21-member core committee comprising all prominent farmers’ leaders in Maharashtra and agricultural experts will be meeting in Nashik on Thursday to chalk out future course of the agitation. The committee, which was recently reconstituted after split among farmers’ outfits, is likely to come out plans to intensify the agitation.
In a related development, Swabhimani Paksha chief and Kolhapur MP Raju Shetti, another ally of the BJP, has decided to take the agitation at national level by calling a meeting of all farmers’ outfits in Delhi on June 16. Shetti said time has come to remind the BJP government its promises to the farmers.
Also, in a bid to start the process of loan waiver for the farmers, the state government constituted a sub-committee headed by Chandrakant Dalvi, Pune divisional commissioner, to collect information regarding loans taken by the farmers from commercial and district central cooperative (DCC) banks.