BJP MP Nana Patole, who had kicked up a storm earlier this month by saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t like to take questions, on Wednesday fired a fresh salvo at his party, this time targeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his government. Echoing the Opposition’s criticism, Patole, who represents Vidarbha’s Bhandara-Gondia constituency, said farmer suicides had increased under Fadnavis’s watch. “Farmers suicides were taking place in the state earlier too but the numbers have risen in these three years,” he said.
Taking another sharp dig, Patole said: “People are always mindful of leaders who change stance after assuming positions of power. The chief minister is a friend. And I’m proud of the fact that my friend is now at the helm of the state. But when a friend makes a mistake, I take it as my duty to point it out to him. He should improve and work for the betterment of the people.”
Backing the Opposition’s demand for a “blanket” farm loan waiver, Patole said the various caveats introduced by the Maharashtra government for farmers availing the waiver were unjust and uncalled for. He said he has also been a vocal critic of the complicated online application process for the waiver.
The MP said during his meeting with the Chief Minister on Wednesday, he had raised the issue of the “extremely insensitive” and “unwarranted” remarks made by the state’s Revenue Minister, Chandrakant Patil, who was quoted on Monday as saying over 10 lakh applications for farm loan waiver were “bogus”.
“How can a minister make such insensitive and baseless remarks is beyond me. Their (the government’s) online portal for the loan waiver has been accepting the applications. How were bogus claimants allowed to apply? Also, the scrutiny of the applications is yet to begin. If such insensitive remarks are made, Nana Patole won’t keep quiet. This has enraged me,” he said. The BJP MP further criticised the Fadnavis government for being unable to provide commensurate returns to paddy farmers.
While making a U-turn on his alleged criticism of Modi — he now maintains that the PM has never stopped him from raising issues — Patole reiterated his complaint that several state projects were stuck because of lack of coordination between the state and central agencies.
Sources said close ties of the Prime Minister and the ruling government with NCP leader Praful Patel — Patole’s arch-rival — has upset the MP, who hails from the same constituency. There is also speculation in political circles that Patole has an offer to join the Shiv Sena. When asked, Patole avoided a direct answer, but said, “I’m in touch with Uddhavji, former NDA ally Raju Shetti, and independent MLA Bacchu Kadu, among others.”