The state government’s loan waiver package of Rs 30,000 crore has triggered speculation of mid-term polls in Maharashtra. Opposition Congress and NCP, besides BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, are seemingly worried as they feel denial of loan waiver was the biggest weapon they had with them to use against the BJP government in the next elections.
Though Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was “confident of completing the tenure”, he added, “In politics, very thing is possible and we are always ready.” The Opposition and the Sena believe the Samvaad Yatra of the BJP across the state reflects that the party is in election mode.
“The loan waiver decision has come as a big surprise to us. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is abroad on a holiday. So, we could not discuss the developments. We can no longer corner the BJP on the loan waiver issue as the financial aid of Rs 30,000 crore to 40 lakh farmers is biggest by any state in the country. The Sena should associate with the decision and claim the credit,” said a senior Shiv Sena minister.
Though the timing of loan waiver is perceived as a move to tackle the ongoing farmers’ strike, the loan waiver will be enforced by October 31, 2017. The date coincides with the completion of Fadnavis government’s three years.
The CM, however, justified the timing. “To enforce such a mammoth decision, any government will require a few months’ time. We have to ensure eligible farmers get the benefits and it is not misused, as was done in the past inviting CAG strictures against then Congress-NCP government,” he said.
Citing the examples of UP, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, which have announced loan waiver, Fadnavis said, “These states have taken few months for actual implementation (of loan waiver) because of procedures that need to be followed.”
These states too have decided to waive loans of small and marginal farmers only.
Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Mumbai from June 16 to 18. While BJP leaders said the visit would be an exercise to further consolidate the electoral gains made in recent local bodies elections, the Opposition is sceptical. “We know BJP can call early elections along with other states any time after November if it believes Shiv Sena is proving to be a headache in the coalition,” said a leader.
NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare have decided to start a statewide campaign from June 11. On June 9, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has convened a meeting. Alarmed by the loan waiver, MPCC president Ashok Chavan and senior leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil are also working to increase party activities. On Sunday, Vikhe-Patil announced that he would adopt 250 families of farmers who committed suicide.