Congress today demanded a special session of Maharashtra Legislature to discuss the ongoing agitation by farmers and to know the BJP-led state government’s stand on loan waiver issue. “The situation prevailing in the state is serious. It was wrong for the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and (MoS Agriculture) Sadabhau Khot to announce that the strike (by farmers) was called off when it was still on,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chavan said. “We demand an immediate special session of the Legislature to discuss this ongoing strike and the government’s actual stand on loan waiver and to give justice to farmers,” he told reporters here.
Chavan said the chief minister’s contention to provide loan waiver to farmers with marginal land holdings will do no good to them as most of the cultivators in suicide-prone Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have land ad-measuring more than five hectares. “The CM cannot differentiate among farmers. They are in a bad situation and there is a dearth of facilities for them due to consecutive drought for three years. The drought did not choose to affect only marginal farmers,” he said.
On Fadnavis’ allegations of hooligans resorting to violence in the name of farmers’ protests, Chavan said “everybody knows which is the party that has the maximum number of goons.” “During our tenure in government for 10 years, we increased the minimum support price (MSP) for farmers by an average 140-160 per cent, about 14 per cent increase annually. The BJP, in the last three years, has increased MSP by a mere 1.5 per cent,” he said.
Responding to the chief minister’s announcement of bringing in a law during the forthcoming monsoon session to criminally charge those who buy agricultural produce at a rate lesser than the MSP, Chavan said it is the government’s responsibility to buy it at MSP. “This law will only apply to traders. They will close down their business saying it is unsustainable for them. Farmers will be left in a lurch if the government does not take responsibility to buy the produce,” he said.