Maharashtra Opposition intensifies attacks on govt, kicks off second Sangharsh Yatra for farm loan waiver

Intensifying their demand to waive loans of distressed farmers, six Opposition parties started a second Sangharsh Yatra from historical Sindkhed Raja of Buldhana district on Saturday. The four-day rally will conclude in Thane.

mumbai Updated: Apr 24, 2017 12:25 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
farm loan waiver,farmers,suicides
Opposition leader during the first Sangarsh Yatra in Panvel on April 4(HT)

Intensifying their demand to waive loans of distressed farmers, six Opposition parties started a second Sangharsh Yatra from Sindkhed Raja, a historic place in Buldhana district, on Saturday.

Sindkhed Raja is the birth place of Jijamata, mother of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The four-day rally will conclude in Thane.

The ‘Sangharsh Yatra’ will traverse 1,000km and cover six districts — Buldhana, Jalgaon, Dhule, Nandurbar, Dhule city and Nashik — from Vidarbha and north Maharashtra.

Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “Can’t the state government see farmers’ plight? Where is the common sense of the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis)?” Pawar said while addressing farmers at Sindkhed Raja before kicking off the protest march.

The rally had got a shot in the arm as Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) ally Raju Shetti, president of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), threatened to ratchet up the protest for the waiver. The SSS has collected 6.5 lakh forms signed by farmers who have become indebted owing to the bad policies of the state government, Shetti told HT.

“We have planned a big rally in Kolhapur. There, we will announce our future course. We plan to send all these forms to the President,” Shetti said.

Shiv Sena, another BJP ally, had already supported the opposition’s demand to waive Rs30,500 crore in farm loans and aggressively raised the issue during the budget session. Farmers in the state are said to be facing agrarian crisis for many reasons: falling prices of their produce, unseasonal rains, hailstorms and acute water crisis.

Following the UP government’s decision, Opposition parties has been mounting pressure on the Devendra Fadnavis government to grant Rs30,500 crore loan waiver to farmers in Maharashtra.

Experts believe the Opposition parties have taken up the issue considering that it will also help them regain their lost ground in rural areas.

The state government recently announced a slew of schemes for farmed under its ‘Unnat Sheti, Samruddha Sheti’ (upgraded farming, prosperous farming) initiative. Moreover, the chief minister initiated a direct interaction with farmers on DD Sahyadri, a government owned Marathi TV channel in two episodes. The first episode was telecasted on Sunday and second episode will be aired on April 16. He has asked the finance secretary to study the UP model for farm loans.

In the first phase of the rally, Opposition leaders travelled 1,500km visiting most of the sensitive districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, where farmer suicides are the highest.

Oppn leaders meet Khadse

Opposition leaders on Saturday met senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse at his residence in Jalgaon when the rally reached there.

They asked Khadse, who stepped down as state revenue minister, over a land deal, to join the rally


Opposition parties in Maharashtra start ‘Sangharsh Yatra’ for farm loan waiver

Congress, NCP up ante against BJP govt over farm loans in Maharashtra

First Published: Apr 16, 2017 00:54 IST