You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Shiv Sena calls farmers’ meet in Nashik to build force against BJP

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-05-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: In a bid to build a non-Congress, non-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) platform against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, the Shiv Sena has called a farmers’ convention in Nashik in north Maharashtra on 19 May to demand farm loan waiver and measures to make farmers “debt-free”.

The Shiv Sena has invited Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) founder and MP Raju Shetty to the convention, and farm sector experts and activists, according to a press release issued by the Shiv Sena.

A Shiv Sena functionary said all Sena MPs, ministers and legislators would attend this convention, where Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will demand loan waiver as well as additional measures to make farmers “debt-free”.

“We have invited Raju Shetty because he is an elected representative of farmers and he has also been raising his voice against the anti-famer policies of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (Maharashtra chief minister Devendra) Fadnavis governments. Farm sector experts and activists have been invited to present policies and solutions that can provide immediate as well as long-term relief to farmers,” the Sena functionary said, requesting anonymity. He said the effort had to be seen in contrast with the opposition parties’ “Sangharsha Yatra”, which he said was a “big farce and an exercise without any constructive plan”.

A state BJP leader said the Sena was trying to woo BJP ally SSS in view of the latter’s uneasy relationship with the BJP.

“Thackeray sees that SSS is not happy in government because its support base of farmers is unhappy over a number of issues. Thackeray is trying to win over Raju Shetty to lend more credibility to the Sena’s campaign on farm issues,” said the BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

“Congress-NCP do not see the irony in demanding farm loan waiver when it is their policies which have brought the farmers to this critical situation. As against this, Uddhav saheb has been engaged in much serious discussions with farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha during the Shiv Sampark Abhiyan and all Sena representatives are drafting reports that would be presented to the government. Chief minister Fadnavis has been insisting on long-term solutions to the agrarian crisis and he is right. But Fadnavis is not acknowledging that loan waiver is necessary for immediate relief while other long-term measures have to be implemented independently,” the Sena functionary said.

After a phase of flip-flops over the strategy to demand farm loan waiver during which the opposition parties out-smarted Shiv Sena by organising the Sangharsha Yatra, the party seems to have recovered and put in place a plan to reach out to farmers.

The Sena’s farm outreach is also an attempt to revive the party cadres in regions like Marathwada and Vidarbha where the Sena lost out to the BJP in the recent local body and zilla parishad polls.

On 6 May, Thackeray launched the first phase of Sena’s “Shiv Sampark Abhiyaan” in Marathwada to get feedback from Sena legislators and farmers on the intensity of farm discontent. Thackeray was in Vidarbha on 15 May to launch the second phase. He targeted the state government for alleged scams in the Fadnavis government’s flagship water conservation programme Jalyukta Shivar in Ratnagiri district of Konkan region and even compared the scam with the irrigation scandal during the Congress-NCP rule.

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon