BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Friday denied there was an “Operation Lotus” underway in Maharashtra and said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state would collapse on its own due to its “internal contradictions”. The Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly, who met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi amid a political storm in Rajasthan, also asserted there was no political agenda behind the meetings.
“My meeting with the PM was confined to situation arising due to Covid-19 pandemic in Maharashtra. I appraised him about the ground reality based on my tour to all districts in the state… The Centre is monitoring the Covid-19 situation in all states. I have not made any demand [before the Prime Minister]. I just gave my inputs. As the Leader of Opposition in the state legislature, it is my duty to visit the people and understand their problems and help. Accordingly, I explained why cases were increasing in certain regions, or what are the concerns and situation in Mumbai, Thane and Pune districts, which are worst-hit by Covid-19,” Fadnavis said.
Earlier in the day, Fadnavis also discussed with Shah the Covid-19 situation in the state and the problems faced by the sugar industry and farmers in Maharashtra.
“At this moment, Covid-19 pandemic is our main concern as it is getting out of control in Maharashtra. The government’s policies and their enforcement are not adequate to bring relief to the people reeling under hardships,” he said.
Maharashtra, which has recorded 2,92,589 Covid-19 cases, is worst-hit by the pandemic. Stressing there was no political agenda behind the meet, he said, “There is no ‘Operation Lotus’ in Maharashtra. We are not interested in dislodging the state government. It will break under its own internal conflict and differences.” ‘Operation Lotus’ refers to the alleged attempts by the BJP to engineer defections from the ruling party in opposition governed states.
During his talks with Shah, Fadnavis sought financial assistance for the sugar sector to enable mills and cane farmers to override the crisis. He has also urged the Centre to raise the Minimum Support Price (MSP), restructure loans and extend a soft loan to the sugar sector.
“I have urged the Centre to provide a financial package to help sugarcane farmers and mills. The minimum selling price should be raised to help sugar mills and higher fair price remuneration should be given to enhance the income of sugarcane cultivating farmers… We have also urged the Centre to consider one-time restructuring of loans for sugar mills which are in financial crisis, and extension of soft loans and a bailout package,” Fadnavis said.
Shah who heads the Group of Ministers (GoM) had reassured to consider the demands, Fadnavis said.
Fadnavis also called upon Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Ramvilas Paswan to discuss the problems in the sugar sector and overall agriculture sector.
Rejecting the speculation that he was tipped to get a role in national politics, he said, “The BJP national parliamentary board is still to be finalised. Moreover, the decision of shortlisting the candidates for parliamentary board rests with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and senior leaders.”
BJP leaders Harshvardhan Patil, Dhananjay Mhadik, Ranjitsingh Mohite Patil, Ranjit Nimbalkar, Prasad Lad, Prithviraj Deshmukh and ally Jansurajya Shakti Party leader Vinay Kore accompanied Fadnavis during the meet with Shah.