Eyeing political gains, the Congress on Monday demanded a special session of the Maharashtra legislature over the agrarian crisis and the ongoing farmers’ agitation in the state. Former CM and Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said, “Our demand is that the government should urgently convene a special session of the legislature over the farmers’ issue. The situation is very serious on the ground.” While CM Devendra Fadnavis had earlier announced that his government would write off loans for about 31 lakh farmers holding small land holdings who had defaulted on loans due to natural calamities, the agitators have continued their protests, demanding a blanket loan waiver.
On Monday, Chavan also criticised Fadnavis and state Agriculture Minister Sadabhau Khot for attempting to break the strike. Arguing that the CM’s offer for partial relief was no good, Chavan claimed that most farmers in the suicide-prone Vidarbha and Marathwada belts won’t even qualify for it. The government has plans to limit relief to farmers with less than 5 hectare non-irrigated farm holding.
“The government cannot differentiate among farmers this way. This is an unprecedented situation. The drought spell over the past three years has hit all farmers. We’ll continue to press for full loan waiver,” said Chavan.
“The government should convene a special legislative session. Measures that it plans to take to resolve the crisis must be discussed on the floor of the house,” he added. Chavan also criticised the government’s announcement regarding a law to criminalise procurement of the farm produce at rates lower than the minimum support price, claiming it was illogical and untenable. The farmers agitation in the state entered its fifth day on Monday, with protesters observing bandh in parts of the state.