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We have a wealth of experience in Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar, says Maharashtra CM

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. File

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Government is planning complete farm loan waiver, says Uddhav Thackeray

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would always stand by farmers through thick and thin, said Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday. He reiterated his government’s commitment to total farm loan waiver and said it would come out with a plan in the coming days.

“We have already announced an immediate waiver of loans totalling ₹2 lakhs per farmer as immediate relief to cultivators. While we are certainly going to do this, we are also taking steps to ensure that their entire crop loan [above ₹2 lakhs] is waived,” Mr. Thackeray said at the 43rd annual general meeting of the Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), whose chairman is Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar.

The Chief Minister shared the dais with Mr. Pawar amid the presence of politicos, “sugar barons” and cooperative sector heavyweights across the political spectrum including senior NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar, Congressman Balasaheb Thorat and BJP leaders Harshawardhan Patil and Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil among others.

“The cooperative sector and politics of Maharashtra are inseparable. This sector has bequeathed several tall leaders to the State. The rural economy is dependent on this sector. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to ensure the well-being of the farmer, who is the fulcrum of this sector,” Mr. Thackeray said.

Taking potshots at his estranged ally BJP, Mr. Thackeray said in the earlier government, the Sena was figuratively only “half a component”.

“What I mean by this is that we did not have the complete freedom to take decisions and follow them up. But that has changed now. [NCP chief] Sharad Pawar has taught us not only to raise farm productivity but also to form a government despite having lesser number of MLAs,” quipped Mr. Thackeray, remarking that the BJP ought not boast of having emerged as the single-largest party after the Assembly polls.

Lauding Mr. Pawar’s vision behind setting up the VSI, Mr. Thackeray announced his government’s intention of establishing another branch of the institute in the Marathwada region.

“I am proud that such a concern [VSI] which delves into the technical problems of agriculture and disseminates its researches is in my State…so, their work, which has contributed so much to the well-being of farmers while enhancing knowledge about best agricultural practices, must expand across the State. I promise that another branch of the VSI will be set up in Marathwada,” Mr. Thackeray said.

Noting the dire straits of the economy, he said even former Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian had spoken of the economy heading towards an “intensive care unit”.

“At a time when we are living in such economic doldrums, we have to ensure security for farmers’ livelihoods. While a number of problems ail the cooperative sector today, we will set a committee comprising technical experts and agricultural scientists to come with suggestions and most importantly, act upon them to resolve the problems,” Mr. Thackeray said.

Indicating that the ideologically opposed coalition of the Sena and the Congress-NCP was working in harmony, the Chief Minister said he had deferred to the knowledge and experience of Mr. Pawar and other leaders on issues pertaining to agriculture and revenue.

“We have a wealth of experience on these issues, be it Mr. Pawar’s knowledge or the experience of Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and Balasaheb Thorat,” Mr. Thackeray said.

This is the first time that the Chief Minister addressed the VSI meet since becoming Chief Minister. While Maharashtra’s cooperative sector has been overwhelmingly dominated by politicos from the NCP and the Congress, the BJP has only managed to secure a marginal toehold in recent times, mainly by acquiring NCP and Congress leaders who defected to their side.

In contrast, the Shiv Sena has largely remained an ingenue with minimal presence.

A sense of this awareness was reflected in Mr. Thackeray’s speech, in which the Sena chief had continually referred to the expertise of Mr. Pawar.

Ajit Pawar changes his seating arrangement raising eyebrows

Earlier, eyebrows were raised when senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar changed his seating arrangement to be close to his bete noire ex-Congressman turned BJP leader Harshavardhan Patil, who had quit the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls.

A bitter Mr. Patil, a former Minister in the Congress-NCP government, had openly blamed the Pawar clan for their ‘duplicity’ in not leaving the Indapur Assembly seat for him.

Just before the Lok Sabha polls in May, Mr. Ajit Pawar had met Mr. Patil to ensure that he campaigned for his cousin Supriya Sule in the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency which consists of Indapur.

Mr. Patil had backed Ms. Sule in the hope that the NCP would support his candidacy in the Assembly polls. However, the candidacy soon proved controversial as the NCP showed disinclination to deny the ticket to their sitting MLA Bharne, which upset Mr. Patil who went over to the BJP.

However, Mr. Ajit Pawar was seen amicably chatting with Mr. Patil prior to the VSI meet.

Similarly, former NCP stalwart Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, who too defected to the BJP after a bitter tiff with the Pawar clan over ticket allocation during the Lok Sabha polls, was seen holding a friendly conversation with Mr. Sharad Pawar ahead of the event.

“There was no political talk…we discussed issues pertaining to agriculture,” Mr. Patil said after the event.

“I have not gone anywhere…I am still with the NCP and Sharad Pawar. I had even met him a number of times after the Lok Sabha polls,” was Mr. Mohite-Patil’s cryptic remark when asked whether he had indeed gone over to the BJP.

Mr. Mohite-Patil’s son Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil joined the BJP after the NCP brass allegedly refused the Mohite-Patils’ a ticket for the Madha Lok Sabha seat in Solapur. The elder Mohite-Patil had subsequently gone all out to ensure the BJP’s victory in Madha and had shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s rally in Solapur during the parliamentary election.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 12:58:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/we-have-a-wealth-of-experience-in-sharad-pawar-and-ajit-pawar-says-maharashtra-cm/article30395727.ece

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