Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis took swipes at each other on Monday, when the two leaders were touring areas in western Maharashtra hit by heavy rain last week.
Fadnavis claimed that NCP chief Sharad Pawar has to defend the “inefficient” Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Thackeray, prompting the latter to hit back and say the BJP leader should prioritise supporting residents of Maharashtra who have been hit by heavy rain and flooding, instead of camping in another state.
Fadnavis, who is the BJP in-charge for Bihar elections, rushed back to Maharashtra on Monday to tour the rain-hit districts of Pune, Solapur and Osmanabad.
“There is a lot of unrest among public over governance in the state. The state government is inefficient and the NCP chief has to defend the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress alliance government,” said the former CM during his visit to Pune district.
“There has been heavy damage to crops in flood-affected areas. The state government should immediately provide some relief through financial assistance to farmers… instead of waiting for the panchnama to be processed,” he said.
On Thackeray and Pawar saying the state will seek financial assistance from the Union government, the BJP leader said, “It is the prime responsibility of the state government to provide immediate help to the affected farmers. It is improper to always put the ball in the court of the central government, which will definitely provide help after completing the procedure for it.”
Fadnavis said political parties should only try helping the farmers, not politicise the issue. He said the previous state government headed by him had provided immediate help to farmers during the floods last year and used mobile phone photographs as proof to assess the damage.
Fadnavis claimed that this time, it was only after he declared his intention to tour the affected areas that state ministers rushed to the districts to assess the damage.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had started touring the flood-affected districts on Sunday and visited several villages to assess the losses incurred by local residents
Thackeray, who visited affected areas in Solapur district on Monday, hit back at Fadnavis, saying, “ The leader of opposition is a responsible leader. He should give priority to the crisis in state rather than the Bihar elections. In this situation, we should all reach out to the Union government for financial help for the farmers.”
On the criticism by Fadnavis that state ministers started touring affected areas only after he announced his plans to do the same, Thackeray said, “The opposition leader is campaigning for his party in Bihar elections. He should go to Delhi to get assistance for the state from the Union government.”
He added, “I will not make mere announcements but will actually provide financial assistance to farmers. We have already started providing assistance to those who lost their family members in the torrential rain. The financial assistance to farmers for loss of their crop would be given as soon as the panchnama is completed… the danger is not over yet…the weather department has predicted more rain in the coming days.”
Thackeray said he was “convinced” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will extend all possible support for the flood-affected people of Maharashtra as the PM had already promised to do so.
“On Friday, the PM himself called me and told me not to worry, (he said) if necessary, we will extend all possible help…what is wrong in seeking help from the Centre,” the CM said at a press conference after visiting a slew of flood-affected villages in Solapur.
Stating that his government understands farmers’ pain, Thackeray said, “The farmers have tears in their eyes. Rather than asking us for help, there is a need for us to do something for them. Understanding their pain and taking care of their needs is very important at this juncture.”
Thackeray said farmers who have incurred losses need not worry. “…Whatever is required to be done and whatever has to be done for them, the state government will certainly do it,” he said.
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