Mumbai/Chandrapur: The Congress and the NCP today launched a ‘sangharsh yatra’ from Chandrapur in east Maharashtra, demanding a complete loan waiver for farmers. The yatra is scheduled to travel across Maharashtra, before culminating in Banda in the coastal Sindhudurg district on April 5. “The agitation against the state government will not stop until the loan waiver for farmers is announced,” state unit Congress president Ashok Chavan announced while addressing a public meeting in Chandrapur, at the launch of the protest.
He alleged that the BJP-led stated government has “destroyed” farmers by its “insensitive” attitude towards them. “More than 9000 farmers have committed suicide, but still the state government has not announced loan waiver for farmers,” the former chief minister said. He said when the Congress-led UPA government was in power, the Congress had realised the plight of farmers and waived off their loans. Dubbing the government “heartless”, senior party leader Prithviraj Chavan said that the Opposition will have to intensify its stir for the cause of farmers.
In his speech, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the government has “murdered” democracy by suspending 19 MLAs of the Congress and NCP from the Legislative Assembly. The 19 MLAs were suspended from the House last week for a period of nine months for disrupting the Budget speech of Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on March 18. Referring to an alleged scuffle between a farmer and the police personnel at the state secretariat in Mumbai, Ajit said, “A farmer coming to Mantralaya for seeking justice is beaten up.” Jogendra Kawade of the Peoples’ Republican Party said the suspension of the MLAs is akin to “rubbing salt on farmers wound.”
Another Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar said that farmers should stop repaying loans. The opposition leaders visited family members of a farmer Bandu Karkade in Palasgaon village, who had committed suicide. The issue of the loan waiver has paralysed the functioning of the state legislature in the ongoing Budget session. The contention of the government is that the loan waiver will not bail out the farmers from the financial distress.