Devendra Fadnavis promised a crop loan waiver for 31 lakh farmers in Maharashtra.
A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that a committee will look into a crop loan waiver for 31 lakh farmers in the state, senior Opposition leader and former Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan has demanded more clarity from Mr Fadnavis.
"He has said by October 31 'I will give you the contours' which means there is no clarity on the exact amount of loan that will be written off. He was under pressure as fresh produce was not reaching the market because of the strike," Mr Chavan said today.
On Saturday morning, farmers groups called off their strike after a meeting with Mr Fadnavis that went on till 3 am. The Chief Minister has promised setting up of a committee that will look into a loan waiver and a state-level commission for regulating prices of agricultural produce and increasing the procurement price for milk.
"We are working hard to provide all possible assistance to farmers. Creating water facilities, providing power supply, food processing, group farming and many more initiatives are being implemented. We decided to appoint a committee to prepare modalities of loan waiver with representatives of farmers to ensure max coverage and satisfaction. We announced the biggest ever loan waiver today to provide relief to farmers in distress," he said.
While speaking during a rally at late BJP leader Gopinath Munde's memorial yesterday, Mr Fadnavis added his government is trying to work out a long-term solution to agrarian crisis in Maharashtra. But the opposition didn't seem convinced.
"He got hold of selective leaders and negotiated with them. So it was not representative at all. The Chief Minister has a record of hyperbole. He makes tall claims but in the end nothing materialises," Mr Chavan said and added that the opposition will keep pushing until the farmers' demands are met in a time-bound manner.
On Thursday, a section of farmers in the state went on strike, dumped vegetables and emptied milk containers on roads to demand better prices for their produce and a crop loan waiver. This led to a spike in prices of fruits and vegetables in Mumbai.
Blaming the opposition for throwing stones and wasting food supplies during the protests, Mr Fadnavis said, "Farmers can't do this and some political party workers are behind it. Some parties whose agitations failed are trying to complicate matters. Farmers' produce is being stopped from reaching markets. This is causing loss to them."
Mr Chavan retorted, "It's our duty to oppose and expose the government. We have just highlighted the woes of farmers. Are farmers commiting suicide because the Opposition is instigating them? Farmers have voted for the BJP, but now they are feeling betrayed as no is paying attention to their problems."