The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, the farmers’ union formed by former MP Raju Shetti, witnessed another split when a group of leaders led by Dasarath Sawant decided to part ways with the organisation. Addressing the media earlier this week, this splinter group declared that it would work on issues related to farmers and unemployment.
Shetti had split from the original Shetkari Sanghatana, formed by legendary farmers’ leader Sharad Joshi, to form his own organisation. Concentrating mostly on the cane belt, the union had created a solid support base which saw Shetti winning back-to-back general elections in 2009 and 2014. However, in 2019, Shetti lost to Shiv Sena’s Dhairyasheel Mane.
Other than Sawant, who is the former state president of the organisation, the group included senior leaders such as Marathwada president Manikrao Kadam, former minister Subodh Mohite, Hansraj Badgul and others. In the press release they issued, the leaders listed 10 reasons for their decision to part ways with the Sanghatana.
Over the years, the release said, the Sanghatana had failed to develop any intellectual thinktank within the organisation which would have led the movement. Sawant alleged that the Sanghatana had failed to evolve beyond the cane belt, with the annual Oosh Parishad (cane conclave) being the only important event held by the body. There were no attempts, they alleged, on the part of the Sanghatana to undertake a serious analysis about the lack of political leadership in the organisation. “The organisation had failed to protect the interest of the hard-working and dedicated workers and instead groupism was rampant in the organisation,”the release stated.
The group led by Sawant is the latest of a number of leaders to part ways with the Sanghatana, citing their differences with Shetti and his method of functioning. Earlier, former minister of state Sadashiv Khot had left the fold to float his own outfit, Rayat Sanghatana. The Sanghatana had seen leaders such as Ulhas Patil, Sayaji More and others also leaving, which had significantly weakened Shetti’s hold over his constituency.
Shetti tried to play down the latest schism and pointed out that he had dissolved all the committees of the outfit. “It must have come to their notice that they would not be accommodated in the new committees of the organisation. Their resignation might have been fueled by that,” he said.
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