Aid for rain-hit farmers: Uddhav tells Oppn. to not indulge in mud-slinging

Reaching out: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray interacts with affected farmers during a visit to rain-hit areas in Akkalkot taluka of Solapur district on Monday.  

Calling upon the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to desist from playing politics over the devastation wrought by the retreating monsoon, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday assured farmers that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government would not leave them in the lurch.

Speaking after visiting parts of rain-affected Solapur district, Mr. Thackeray said that the State government had not announced details of an assistance package yet simply because the retreating monsoon crisis was not yet over.

“I have not yet made any announcement as crisis is not yet over. We are collecting information regarding the extent of crop and property damage; the process of panchanamas (assessing damage) is already under way. We have started providing immediate financial assistance to the families of those who have died in rain-related incidents,” the CM said, adding that it was pointless announcing something in a hurry as the meteorological department had forecast more rain till October 24.

Stating that the priority for the administration at this stage is to avoid any further loss of life, Mr. Thackeray appealed to farmers not to despair of their situation and said that the State government would approach the Centre for any help needed.

“The State will leave no stone unturned in helping farmers. If needed, only then we will be approaching the Centre for financial assistance. I had had a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday who had assured me of every possible help,” he said, exhorting the Opposition not to transform the crisis into a ‘Centre versus State’ scenario.

The politics over excess rain was in full force with former CM and BJP’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis pointedly commencing his tour of rain-hit areas from Baramati — the bastion of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.

Fadnavis hits out at govt.

Mr. Fadnavis criticised the Thackeray government for allegedly waiting for the Centre to step in without declaring financial assistance of its own accord.

“The Centre will help. It has done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future as well. Prime Minister Modi, too, has assured Maharashtra of all help. But why isn’t the State declaring its own assistance package? Last year, we had announced a ₹10,000 crore package at the time of the Sangli-Kolhapur floods without waiting for the Centre to declare aid,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

Speaking in Solapur, Mr. Thackeray, without naming Mr. Fadnavis, said that instead of canvassing for the Bihar polls (where Mr. Fadnavis had been appointed in-charge), “all of us together should be seeking relief for Maharashtra’s farmers from the Centre.”

“We have started giving immediate relief to the rain-afflicted... The Centre is not a ‘foreign’ government. It is the Centre’s duty to come to the aid of any State suffering from a natural calamity. And I think after my phone call with Mr. Modi, I am convinced that if we request the Prime Minister for aid, he will never refuse us,” the CM said, urging the Opposition not to indulge in political mud-slinging at this juncture.

Mr. Thackeray further attempted to dispel the perception, being reinforced by the State BJP leadership, of his not being on the field to monitor the situation.

“I have been continuously monitoring this situation [of excess rain] and have been in constant communication with authorities. It isn’t as if I have come to be aware of it just today,” he said, assuring farmers that he would be visiting afflicted regions tomorrow and the day after as well.

Earlier, speaking in Tuljapur, Mr. Pawar, too, had attempted to defend the CM by stating that the MVA leadership had decided that Mr. Thackeray should remain at a central place in order to monitor the situation.

“We had advised him [Mr. Thackeray] to remain at one place while the other leaders would be touring the afflicted regions…after all, the person who holds all the administrative threads must stay at one place in order to make decisions,” Mr. Pawar said.

Stressing that there was no administrative failure, Mr. Thackeray also said that the showers, whose like had not been seen by farmers in decades, were falling with a peculiar intensity.

In response, Mr. Fadnavis hit out at the CM and the MVA government, saying that it was unfortunate that it was left to a senior leader like Mr. Pawar to defend the shortcomings of the MVA government.

He further claimed that it was only after the BJP leaders had declared their tours, the guardian ministers of the ruling MVA government belatedly announced their visits.

Visiting Maladgaon in Baramati, Mr. Fadnavis said, “This is a deplorable situation. In the last eight days, no one from the district administration has made contact with the villagers. There is no aid for them; there is no electricity here as the pole has been washed away in the flood. If this village, right under the noses of the State government, is in this awful state, then one can only imagine the condition of rain-hit villages in the Marathwada.”

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 3:46:47 PM |

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