A leading farmer outfit in Maharashtra led by Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti has indicated it is open to an alliance with the Congress for the 2019 general elections provided the latter supports it on two key agrarian issues, sources said Friday. The Shetti-led organisation, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), is also keen on contesting six of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, they said. The sources said the SSS would insist on contesting the Lok Sabha polls from six seats: Kolhapur, Hatkanangale (also in Kolhapur district), Madha (in Solapur district), Wardha, Buldhana and Sangli.
At present, Shetti is the lone representative attached to the SSS in the Lok Sabha. He was elected from the Hatkanangle constituency. “We want the Congress to support a private member’s bill that Shetti will move, seeking provision of fair prices to farmers. “We also want the Congress to back our demand of implementing the report of the Swaminathan Commission (which has suggested a slew of measures to address farm distress). These are long-standing demands,” a leader of the organisation told PTI.
According to him, the Congress has asked its leaders Harshvardhan Patil and Satej Patil, both former state ministers, to hold negotiations with Shetti. The SSS, which had backed the ruling NDA in the 2014 general elections, quit the BJP-led coalition in August last year. The Congress has already started reaching out to like-minded parties to forge a “grand alliance” in Maharashtra as part of its larger effort to dislodge the BJP-led NDA from power at the Centre.