Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MLA Rahul Kul and MLC Ranjit Mohite Patil on Monday met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi to discuss the challenges before the Maharashtra sugar mill owners ahead of the crushing season, set to begin from October 15.
In a span of four months, the BJP-led sugar barons have twice urged the Centre to take up the problems pressing the sugar sector in the state. In July, Fadnavis had led a bigger delegation of party leaders, including Jaiprakash Gore, Harshvardhan Patil and Dhananjay Mahadik, to Delhi to discuss various issues of the state’s sugar sector, including a better fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane farmers and a package for the sugar industry.
According to party sources, last month Kul’s Bhima Patas Sugar Cooperative Mill could not make it to the list of 32 sugar mills that received support from the state government to avail pre-season loans. During the meeting with Shah, the BJP delegation sought restricting of loans and government guarantees for sugar mills that are “financially weaker” or “negative worth”, to facilitate them to begin crushing from mid-October. They also sought the Centre’s intervention in restructuring loans for sugar mills.
“Home Minister Amit Shah gave audience to the problems and reassured to help the sugar mills. The details will be worked out shortly,” Fadnavis said.
Sources in the BJP claimed the meeting was an attempt to create a pressure on the state government to ensure it did not adopt “selective approach” in standing guarantor for mills.
In September, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had agreed to be the guarantor for 32 sugar mills, of the 38 proposals it received, so that the financially stressed mills could access loans from the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank or district cooperative banks. Of 32 mills, the Congress and the NCP have a hold over 20 sugar cooperatives and the BJP over 12.
An NCP state Cabinet minister, meanwhile, said, “The sugar mills were shortlisted on the basis of the proposals received from sugar mills. A decision to extend Rs 390 crore loan guarantee to 32 sugar mills was taken by the Cabinet. Those who failed to get government support may have to comply with required norms, or may not be eligible, therefore, kept on hold.”
Kul had left the NCP to successfully contest the 2014 assembly elections on Rashtriya Samaj Party ticket from the Daund constituency. In the 2019 Assembly polls, he contested on the BJP ticket and defeated NCP’s Ramesh Thorat from the seat. Kul’s wife, Kanchan, lost to NCP’s Supriya Sule in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the Baramati seat.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines