Mumbai: Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti today said that nothing substantial would come out from yesterday’s meeting between BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“It is highly unlikely that the two parties would change their stand towards each other,” Shetti, a former NDA ally who won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Ichalkaranji with BJP-Sena support, said.
He likened the political impact, or lack of it, of the meeting between the chiefs of the two bickering saffron parties to the one that Shah had with actor Madhuri Dixit earlier yesterday. Replying to a query on whether there was a chance of him being wooed back into the NDA fold, Shetti said that he was not “that big a person”.
“I don’t think I am that big a person that Shah should come to meet me. But, even if that was to happen, I may fall ill like Lata Mangeshkar,” he said, hinting that he may not be keen to meet his former ally.
Incidentally, the 88-year-old Bharat Ratna awardee had tweeted yesterday that she was unable to meet Shah as she was unwell due to food poisoning.
“When I was an ally, BJP didn’t feel the need to talk after coming to power,” Shetti added.
He called the recent moves by several opposition parties to put up a joint fight with the BJP as a good sign.
“But for farmers, just a regime change is not important. We need to ensure proper prices for farm produce, the welfare of agriculturists, and steps to ensure that they don’t run up debts,” he said.
Shetti criticised the state government’s loan waiver scheme and claimed that “unnecessary conditions” had been laid down for farmers to avail the waiver. He added that the total loan waiver amount will not be more than Rs 14,000 crore.
“For the last three and half years, the state government is levying drought cess on petrol and diesel. This is more than Rs 14,000 crore. Where is the money going?” he questioned.
He pointed out that farm credit for this year stood at Rs 22,000 crore against Rs 42,000 crore last year.
“This is because banks are not giving loan to farmers as they are still debt-ridden. Monsoon is setting in, sowing operations will soon start. But farmers don’t have money to buy seeds, fertilisers etc,” Shetti said.
Speaking about the 10-day farm stir currently underway in several states, Shetti said that organisations affiliated to his Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Samanvay Samiti (ABKSS) were not participating.
“We are neither opposing the strike nor are we supporting it. We had resorted to a strike last year and in Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh) farmers were killed in police firing. We have submitted a private member bill on farmers’ issues and have demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss it,” he informed.
He claimed that there was no clarity on the sugarcane package announced by the Union government yesterday.
“The government says sugar prices will stabilise at Rs 2,900 (per quintal) but there is no clarity on how this will happen. Will the government purchase sugar or will it export it?” he asked.