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MNS tries to expand its base, woos farmers

With Assembly polls due in some months, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is trying hard to tap into the anger among distressed farmers.

mumbai Updated: May 17, 2019 22:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
On Friday, the MNS organised a farmers’ march in Thane as a protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and demanding more facilities for farmers across the state to tackle the drought.

With Assembly polls due in some months, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is trying hard to tap into the anger among distressed farmers.

On Friday, the MNS organised a farmers’ march in Thane as a protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and demanding more facilities for farmers across the state to tackle the drought.

According to political analysts, MNS chief Raj Thackeray is trying hard to expand his base. “Thackeray is trying to change the impression that MNS is an urban party and portrays he has the interests of the farmers on his agenda,” said Hemant Desai, a political commentator.

Currently, the MNS has its base in areas like Mumbai, Thane and Nashik and is virtually non-existent in rural pockets. In contrast, Shiv Sena under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray was able to expand its base into rural areas, which was dominated by the Congress-NCP combine.

Thackeray in his maiden speech in 2006, after he launched the party, said that his vision of a developed Maharashtra was to see farmers wearing T-shirts and jeans riding tractors. The MNS even opened animal shelters in the past in drought-affected areas, but then the party did not follow up on this.

MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar agreed that the MNS neglected rural areas since its inception. “It is now the party’s agenda to focus on rural areas and we are doing so. We had focused on urban pockets as there was huge urbanisation taking place and rural people were migrating to there,” said Nandgaonkar. “As farmers tried out all political parties, they want us to come as Rajsaheb is very popular there,” he added.

The Thane protest was organised owing to a recent incident involving Ratnagiri farmer Sachin More who is said to have been selling mangoes at Vishnu Nagar forthe past three years. However, he was removed by BJP workers, claiming that his stall was illegal.

This provoked a clash between MNS and the BJP for which the police had to intervene.

Farmerspeak

Mohar Ghule, 23, came all the way from a village in Beed, along with her two sons and mother-in-law, to participate in the rally. Mohar’s husband Ashok Ghule, hanged himself two years ago, as he was unable to repay a loan.

“We have 1.5 acres, on which we used to produce soyabean, cotton and Jowar. However, for over two years, the rains and water weren’t enought to sustain the farm. I have approached many people for loan waiver, however, I have not received anything.”

Like Mohar, many more such families had participated in the rally from Beed, Wada, Mokhada, Palghar and Shahpur.

(with inputs from Megha Pol)

First Published: May 17, 2019 22:51 IST