The drought situation in Maharashtra which has adversely affected 40 lakh farmers failed to culminate into a healthy discussion as members of the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP engaged in the political battle to score brownie points. The pandemonium in the assembly and council lead to adjournment of both the houses by Tuesday afternoon.
The agriculture package from the state for drought relief could be up to Rs 3,500 to Rs 4000 crore. The formal decision would be made weekend. The Centre has also granted Rs 4,500 crore relief package to tide over agrarian crisis.
The Congress and NCP walked to the well of the assembly and council demanding the government should accept their demand for adjournment motion which amounted to suspending all days work for the discussion. The argument from the government was they would allow two to three days discussion after the question hour which is sacrosanct and also relates to issues of the people.
The chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The government had already listed the drought discussion in the Tuesday’s agenda. The government reckons the severity of the drought and hardships of the farmers. We want a healthy debate and government is sensitive to the problems.”
Yet, Congress and NCP members squatted on the floor raising anti-government slogans, blowing whistles, making cat calls to register their protest against the Fadnavis government.
Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said, “The drought is not confined to any single district. It has gripped almost two-third of Maharashtra. The government should first spell out what drought package it is going to offer.” Bhujbal stressed, “Why are they reluctant to accept our demand of holding debate under section 97.”
Interestingly, there was unanimity between members of ruling BJP, Shiv Sena and Opposition parties Congress, NCP for the two day debate on drought. But the single factor that thwarted the functioning was the government’s refusal to concede opposition’s adjournment motion. Instead, government said, “It should be in accordance to the agenda listed on day’s business.”
Despite five adjournments due to pandemonium in the assembly the speaker Haribhau Bagada could not restore order. In the chaos and confusion the government got its day’s business cleared.
Highly placed sources in the opposition said, “Running the assembly and council is state’s responsibility. They should have taken the leaders across party lines in confidence and found a way out to resolve the deadlock.”
The maximum incidents of farmers suicides have been recorded from six distressed districts of Vidarbha. Whether it was Wardha, Yavatmal, Akola, Buldhana, Amravati or districts of Latur, Parbhani, Osmanabad, Beed, Jalna in Marathwada the crop failure, rising debt, refusal of financial institutions to give loans are some of the critical issues which leaders were expected to debate and provide solutions.
According to insiders, “It was the tactical move of Congress and NCP to force adjournment in assembly and council to get its voice heard on farmers issues.” Whereas, government stood its ground arguing how can they reveal the package before the debate.