Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Sunday asked the Opposition to stand with the government on various issues in an apparent reference to the persisting drought conditions in the state and the distress faced by farmers due to the same.
“Instead of doing politics over various problems, the Opposition should stand with the government to unitedly help the farmers. Not allowing the legislature to function will mean that the Opposition wants to do only politics over the issues,” Fadnavis said at the customary press conference on the eve of the winter session of the state legislature here.
Fadnavis, anticipating an opposition onslaught in the legislature, described the their decision to boycott the government’s tea party as ‘unfortunate’. “We are ready to give replies to all their questions in the legislature,” he said.
Stating that the problems faced by his government are either inherited from previous governments or a cumulative effect of the policies followed over the years, Fadnavis said, “The government is doing everything to provide succour to farmers. We have started water camps as early as July and 800 water tankers are already in operation. Central teams have come to asses the situation earlier when compared to the last few years. We have already received Rs 950 crore from the Centre and have sent a new memorandum in November. We hope for fresh aid soon.”
Refuting the Opposition’s allegations on the issue of pulses, Fadnavis said, “We have checked hoarding and have released the entire ceased stocks into the market and have directed the sale at Rs 100 per Kg. Even now, imported African arhar is available at Rs 130 per kg but people prefer Indian arhar. In neighbouring states like Karnataka, 80% of the ceased stock has still not been released in the markets.”
Fadnavis also said the government was mulling invocation of the Essential Commodities Act in the matter of pulses. “We are seeking legal opinion on the matter,” he said.
On the Opposition charge that the government has been lenient against Adani and Reliance groups in the matter of seizure of pulses as “the two companies have helped the BJP in elections”, Fadnavis said, “The opposition should first explain from where they have brought this figure of Rs 400 crore. They should give figures of the stocks of the two companies. We don’t take action by looking at faces. Raids have been conducted on all.”
Fadnavis also appealed to the media to desist from writing negative stories “that will have a negative impact on farmers’ minds”. “To give an example, it was reported that minister Babanrao Lonikar’s brother-in-law committed suicide due to farm distress, which is not true. The minister himself will tell you the story,” he said. Lonikar later clarified that his brother-in-law Kailash Khiste had some family issues and that he had reaped a good harvest.
Asked about the remark on Saturday by state Advocate General Shrihari Aney that the martyrdom of 105 people was not for Vidarbha, Fadnavis said, “I have not seen the entire statement of Aney. But he has clarified that as AG, he would serve the interest of the state. On Vidarbha, his opinions could be personal.”
Aney, a prominent statehood protagonist, had said that instead of making an observation that there is no public movement for statehood, the central government should conduct a referendum. “I am sure 80% votes would be in favour of statehood. And what is the logic for gauging public mood? People dying in agitations like 1,200 deaths during the Telangana movement?” Aney had said at the release function of his book on Vidarbha statehood agaitation here on Saturday.
Aney went on to rebut the claim of 105 martyrs for Maharashtra state saying, “That was not for Vidarbha’s cause.”
Asked about the Opposition’s allegation that the mention of some abbreviated names in Thane contractor Sooraj Parmar’s diary such as EK and ES refer to Eknath Khadse and Eknath Shinde, Fadnavis said, “Let the Opposition prove that the abbreviations mean that.”
When reminded that he had sought Rs 6,000 per quintal for cotton as opposition leader, Fadnavis said, “The international rates then were Rs 7,000-8,000 per quintal. Last year when we purchased at Rs 4,100 per quintal, the market rate was Rs 3,200. Later, traders also hiked their price due to our price.”
About the statements from Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray impacting the alliance government, Fadnavis said, “If he says something in the interest of the state, it should not be seen in that light. Our relations are very good and the alliance will last its full term.”
Asked why the legislature session was only for two weeks when it should be for a full term, Fadnavis said, “The business advisory committee will be meeting on December 16 to decide further. As it is, last year, we had conducted business for more number of days than previous years.”