Mumbai

‘MVA govt. should first extend relief to rain-affected farmers’

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File   | Photo Credit: Jigneh Mistry

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday targeted the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for not yet announcing a relief package for rain-hit farmers in the State and tossing the ball into the Centre’s court to provide financial assistance.

After surveying rain-hit regions in Osmanabad district, Mr. Fadnavis said, “It is high time the Uddhav Thackeray government stops playing politics over financial aid and shows sensitivity towards the plight of farmers. It has become the norm for the MVA leadership to point a finger at the Centre if anything happens.”

He added, “Now the Prime Minister himself has called the Chief Minister and told him clearly that we [the Centre and the State] are together in this disaster. He has promised any help Maharashtra needs. In the meantime, the State should first extend some relief to the farmers on an urgent basis.”

Mr. Fadnavis pulled out a video clip of Chief Minister Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar dismissing his announcement of a ₹10,000 crore package for farmers after the unseasonal rains in November 2019.

In the video, Mr. Thackeray demanded that Mr. Fadnavis {the then caretaker Chief Minister) give immediate assistance of ₹25,000 to 50,000 per hectare to every afflicted farmer, while Mr. Pawar dubbed the relief package a “pittance”.

Mr. Fadnavis said, “This is an ideal opportunity for Mr. Thackeray and Mr. Pawar to fulfil their promises as they are in power today. Last year, even though I was a caretaker Chief Minister, I immediately announced a relief of ₹10,000 crore for farmers without waiting for the Centre. I see no such action by Mr. Thackeray’s government when faced with a similar crisis today.”

The BJP leader said while he was in no mood for ‘political talk’ during a crisis, the MVA government is persisting in politicising the issue.

“It is said that where there is a will, there is a way. But where there is no will, there is only a survey and this government seems to lack all willpower… while I don’t want to play politics, I am astonished at the amount of politicisation done by ruling party leaders,” he said.

Mr. Fadnavis approved of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s suggestion to borrow loans to tackle the economic crisis and damage to crops wrought by the retreating monsoon. He said, “Mr. Pawar has said of the long time it takes for the Centre’s aid to reach the State. The committee on deciding the relief package is headed by the Home Minister, with the Agriculture and Finance Ministers as its members. First the State has to assess the damage and send a memorandum. Then a Central team conducts its survey in the State. The team will present its report to the Centre, based on which the committee recommends the relief package. So it is a long-drawn-out procedure.”

“This year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has fixed a limit of ₹1.20 lakh crore for States to borrow. Maharashtra till now has only borrowed ₹60,000 crore in loans. So, there is no question of taking overdraft or exceeding RBI limits to borrow more,” he said.

Mr. Fadnavis said despite the States having a provision for doling out relief under the State Disaster Response Fund, the Chief Minister had not announced anything yet. He said while the three MVA allies had internal differences, they were united in passing the buck of providing relief aid to the Centre.

On Monday, Mr. Thackeray, during his visit to rain-hit areas in Solapur district, said that the Maharashtra government has not yet announced a relief package because the retreating monsoon is not yet over and the India Meteorological Department has predicted more showers this week.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 4:04:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mva-govt-should-first-extend-relief-to-rain-affected-farmers/article32904074.ece

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