In Maharashtra, its competitive farmer politics. First it was the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party that launched a Sangharsh Yatra to raise farmers' issues. The Shiv Sena launched its own Shiv Sampark Yatra to reach out to farmers with almost the same demands. And now the BJP has launched what it calls Shivar Samvad or Farmers' dialogues.
Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray will be travelling to Akola in Vidarbha after his party's efforts have not gotten off to the start he would have liked. BJP leaders will fan out across the state later this month to counter this attack.
"The opposition can keep on agitating endlessly. Whether it's the Sangharsh Yatra which is done on an AC bus where public does not interact or whether it's the Shiv Sena which sends dummy representatives, we don't want to go into it. We want to go into the positives of what our government is doing. What does samvad mean? It means dialogue," said BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC.
"They tried to ridicule our efforts that are okay. We are doing our duty. But now they are so threatened that they want to have a Samvad yatra. Samvad yatra means they want to rebuild communication with the farmer which is an admission by the government that they have lost touch with farm reality," said Congress MLA and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The BJP has been on the back foot over the tur dal procurement issue and loan waiver. Its state president made things worse by using a slang to describe farmers who were protesting on the issue. Both the opposition and ally Shiv Sena have demanded loan waiver after it was announced in UP.
The numbers in the Maharashtra Assembly also mean that with the Sena and the opposition demanding the same thing, the government has to find a quick solution. "Congress + NCP + our supporters + Shiv Sena means that the BJP government is in minority. Something must be hurting that the Shiv Sena that it is also taking up this issue."
The Chief Minister has said a loan waiver will come at an appropriate time. But with the opposition mounting the pressure, the BJP is hoping its outreach programme will blunt the opposition's attack.