‘Focus more on resolving farmer issues than securing Council berth’: Raju Shetti

Swabhimani Paksha chief Raju Shetti. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Amid speculation of a strain in ties between the farmer-centric Swabhimani Paksha and the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government over Swabhimani Paksha chief Raju Shetti'’ nomination to the Council, Mr. Shetti clarified that his focus was on farmer issues and not on whether he secured a seat in the Council or not.


Mr. Shetti said he did not have any particular interest in the matter at this date though Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had promised him a berth in the Council and that his name was indeed there in the list of 12 names submitted by the tripartite MVA leadership to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari,

Earlier this month, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had hinted that Mr. Shetti’s name may have been dropped from the list submitted to Mr. Koshyari, who has yet to take a decision to fill the MLC seats from the Governor’s quota.

‘Unconstitutional behaviour’

“I have lost interest in this affair now… the Governor can take whatever decision he wants. However, the fact that Mr. Koshyari has taken no step in this regard even after a nearly a year smacks of unconstitutional behaviour on his part,” the farmer leader told The Hindu from Kolhapur.

The former MP, who is an influential leader in Kolhapur and other parts of Maharashtra’s sugar heartland, says he was more involved at the moment in sorting out the pressing issue of the payment of fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane farmers and planned to take on both the Central and the State governments who were mulling paying the FRP to farmers in instalments instead of at one go.

Mr. Shetti opined that the fact he had been raising his voice on behalf of farmers on a myriad of issues against both the MVA and the BJP-led Centre may have had caused the ruling government to do a rethink on including his name in the list for the MLC.

“As far as I know, my name has not been dropped from the list as Sharad Pawar and NCP Minister Jayant Patil until recently had acknowledged that my nomination was still present…Mr. Pawar said it was the Governor who was dragging his feet. I have had no communication on this matter from the NCP…it is possible that my protests against the ruling government and the Centre may have cast me as a thorn on both sides, but as far as I am aware, my candidature still stands in the list. Either way, I am not particularly interested in this affair,” said Mr. Shetti.

The MVA government had submitted the list to the Governor on November 6, but Mr. Koshyari’s decision has since been hanging fire, giving rise to much controversy in the State.

Delay in the appointments

Last month, Mr. Pawar had questioned Mr. Koshyari regarding the delay in the appointments during a flag hoisting event while the NCP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, had slammed the Governor over the tardiness in approving the list submitted by the MVA government.

Recently, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had led a delegation of Cabinet Ministers from the MVA to meet Mr. Koshyari and urge him to expedite the process. However, Mr. Koshyari has yet to give his endorsement to the MVA’s proposed candidates.

After winning the Shirol Assembly seat as an Independent in 2004, Mr. Shetti had trumped the NCP’s MP Nivedita Mane in the 2009 general election, to win by a margin of more than 95,000 votes. In 2014, he allied his party with the BJP and was re-elected by an even greater margin of 1.77 lakh votes.

However, since Mr. Shetti severed ties with the BJP-led NDA in August 2017, he turned into a vociferous critic of the Narendra Modi and the Devendra Fadnavis governments at the Centre and the State.

Before the 2019 Parliamentary election, Mr. Shetti had backed the NCP and the Congress. But the new alliance proved costly with Mr. Shetti’s seemingly sure grip on Hatkanangale undercut by the Shiv Sena’s youthful Dhairyasheel Mane, who defeated him to snare the vital constituency in Kolhapur.

After his defeat, Mr. Shetti had been promised a seat in the Maharashtra Legislative Council in the Governor’s quota with the backing of the NCP as a kind of a quid pro quo arrangement.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 2:55:33 AM |

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