BJP ally and farmers’ leader Raju Shetti has attacked the government for not doing enough for the community and said he will start a nationwide programme from July 7 in Mandsaur, which recently witnessed violent protests by farmers. The Lok Sabha member who was at the forefront of the recent farmers agitation in Maharashtra said leaders of over 100 farmers’ bodies will join him in the exercise which will end on October 2 in Champaran. October 2 is Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary and Champaran in Bihar was the site of his pro-farmers agitation against the then British rule.
The Swabhimani Paksha leader said the Union government had not done enough for farmers. He said a loan-waiver for farmers and implementation of the Swaminathan report are his main demands. He had earlier met JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who has been working to organise a bigger front against the BJP over issues of farmers. Shetti, however, appeared to have tampered his stand after earlier threatening to reconsider his ties with the BJP.
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He joined the BJP leaders in the nomination-filing exercise of the NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind. Asked if continued to be part of the NDA, he said, “As of now I am.” To a question about support of opposition parties to his programme, he said everybody is welcome to extend their support to his pro-farmers programme. He had earlier accused the BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments of mishandling the farmers’ issue.