Special Correspondent

They need someone to support and understand their needs: Shiv Sena

MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena on Tuesday literally whipped the government for its failure to address the agrarian crisis in the State. Party executive president Uddhav Thackeray launched a State-wide campaign to demand a complete loan waiver for farmers by whipping an effigy of the government, at Shivaji Park.

Opposition parties in Maharashtra are in poll mode with massive rallies being held by the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanding a complete loan waiver for farmers. Mr. Thackeray said farmers did not really need leaders but someone to support and understand their needs. Mr. Thackeray said that while he did not have too many expectations from the budget, Maharashtra should also consider a loan waiver for farmers.

In response to questions, Mr. Thackeray said Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad should not worry about Biharis in Mumbai. He should worry about people in Bihar and if he had paid some attention to them in the past, the present situation would not have arisen.

Bifurcation of Thane

The Opposition is also taking up the cause of adivasis and fishermen. On Monday BJP national general secretary Gopinath Munde flagged off the party’s election drive with a massive rally in the adivasi dominated Jawhar, a three-hour drive from Mumbai, demanding the bifurcation of Thane district.

Mr. Munde said the BJP had made this demand 12 years ago and the bifurcation of Thane district, which has a huge adivasi population, would help focus on the development needs of the poor sections.

Jawhar, Mokhada, Wada, Vikramgad and Dahanu are some of the poor adivasi dominated areas in Thane district, which were beset by problems of unemployment, migration and lack of basic amenities. Making a promise to the large number of people who had gathered for the rally, Mr. Munde said that if the BJP-Sena was voted into power, he would definitely ensure the district was divided into two.

The present coalition government had diverted Rs. 450 crores to the Krishna Kore irrigation scheme from the tribal and social welfare departments, he pointed out. He attacked Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and said he had provided poor quality wheat which was unfit for eating in adivasi areas. Vishnu Savra, BJP MLA from Wada, said Thane district received Rs. 100 crore in the employment guarantee scheme funds every year, but all of it was spent only on paper.

A new district with a distinct focus on adivasis would ensure they got more funds and attention. Much of Thane district was urbanised but there was a definite divide in the region with large pockets of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment.

The district also witnesses large migration to the tune of 40,000 people every year.