Mumbai: The Congress in Maharashtra today made it clear that the opposition parties in the state had come together only to jointly take up the demand for a farm loan waiver and not as part of an electoral alliance. The Opposition parties in the state recently organised a “Sangharsh Yatra” jointly to highlight the plight of farmers and press for a loan waiver.
The Congress reaction came in the backdrop of the NCP advocating a larger alliance of non-BJP parties against the Devendra Fadnavis government. “The Opposition unity was for struggle to get farmers their due against the backdrop of agrarian crisis. The decision on electoral alliances will be taken when the need arises and as per prevailing political situation,” Congress spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan said.
The Congress and the NCP had snapped ties ahead of the local bodies elections including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in February this year. They are also fighting separately the local polls to Chandrapur, Parbhani and Latur scheduled for April 19. The national executive of NCP recently passed a resolution calling for a broad alliance of non-BJP parties.
“The NCP’s national executive passed a resolution recently to pursue a wider non-BJP alliance. If the Sangharsh Yatra brings all non-BJP parties together in Maharashtra, it would be good,” NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said. Justifying the Opposition boycott of the recently concluded Budget session, Mahajan alleged that Fadnavis had side-stepped the issue of farm loan waiver despite hardships faced by farmers due to natural calamities in the last few years. “The ruling side was responsible for the obstruction. The Shiv Sena briefly joined the Opposition protest in the legislative Assembly which was why the government suspended 19 MLAs in retaliation,” Mahajan said.
He said the Opposition should go to the people to expose the Government. “Opposition members participated in the proceedings of the Legislative Council. It was only in the Assembly that our members stayed away from the business of the House,” Mahajan said.
Malik said the Opposition was united on the demand for farm loan waiver. The second phase of Sangharsh Yatra will cover north Maharashtra. “Opposition is demanding loan waiver for farmers for last two years. If we don’t get justice for farmers in the Legislature, we will go to the people to highlight the demand. In last two years, 9,000 farmers have committed suicide,” said Malik. Mahajan said after getting good response to the Sangharsh Yatra in first phase, the second phase of the Yatra will start from April 15.
Hitting out at the Chief Minister for saying that loan waiver is not the only solution and investment in agriculture was priority, Mahajan said, “the then Congress governments in the State and Centre invested in agriculture. We know farm loan waiver is not the only solution. But, it is neccessary now to provide immediate relief to the farmers.” “Farmers in the state are grappling with natural calamities like drought, unseasonal rains and also lack of good market prices for their produce,” he added.