The Shiv Sena on Monday took a swipe at its one-time ally, the BJP, over the "paltry" financial assistance announced by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to the farmers affected by unseasonal rains.
Mr Koshyari had on Saturday granted relief of Rs 8,000 per hectare up to two hectares for agricultural Kharif crops and Rs 18,000 per hectare up to two hectares for horticulture/perennial crops.
In an editorial in the party mouthpiece "Saamana", the Sena said the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, left the affected farmers in the state "disappointed" with the "meagre" relief.
"Farmers in Maharashtra were expecting the governor would announce a major relief package for them. But the Rs 8,000 per hectare aid for kharif crops and Rs 12,000 for horticulture plantation is very less," the editorial said.
The Sena has demanded a compensation of Rs 25,000 per hectare for the Kharif (summer) crops destroyed due to the double whammy of the unseasonal rains and delayed retreat of south-west monsoon in October.
Interestingly, the NCP and the Congress with whom the Sena is trying to form a coalition government in the state, had termed the assistance "meagre" too and demanded it be raised to at least Rs 25,000 crore.
Maharashtra has been under President''s Rule since November 12, as no political party could form a government in the wake of a fractured mandate in the assembly polls that failed to elect a clear winner.
"State BJP president Chandrakant Patil admitted that the announced amount was very low, but does it (the BJP) have courage to condemn the same and stand behind farmers? There is a difference between what BJP leaders are saying and their actual action," it said.
Farmers in Marathwada and North Maharashtra regions were worst affected by the unseasonal rains. "The state is under Central Rule at present. Farmers from more than 350 tehsils were expecting some concrete measures from the governor and the Union government like allocation of a revised financial support, but they were left disappointed," the Sena said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party further said that crops over approximately 94 lakh hectares were damaged, affecting more than one crore people directly dependent on agriculture.
"If crop insurance companies refuse to assess the damage then it would further worsen the situation of farmers because they would not be able to get any compensation," Sena said.
The party has been aggressively demanding that insurance companies expedite the process to pay compensation to the rain-hit farmers. "Untimely rains also affected fishermen who need to be compensated accordingly," the Sena said.
The then chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, had on November 2 approved Rs 10,000 crore as a special assistance for affected farmers. The Sena feared a cascading effect on sowing of Rabi (winter) crops if the farmers are not paid adequate compensation immediately.
Measures like a complete loan waiver for farmers were reportedly discussed ahead of finalising the draft Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had last week visited the affected farmers in Vidarbha region in east Maharashtra.