Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday blamed NCP chief and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and the policies of the Congress-NCP government for farmer suicides in the state.
Speaking at a rally in Akot tehsil in Akola district in Vidarbha, Fadnavis termed the issue as Pawar’s “sin”. “The wrong policies of the Congress-NCP government at the Centre and the state for decades is responsible for the plight of farmers in the state. No access to water was solely responsible for farmers committing suicide. The Congress-NCP government failed to provide irrigation, driving the farmers to take the extreme step,” he said.
“Pawarsaheb, what right do you have to talk about farmer suicides? As the Union minister for agriculture, what steps did you take to mitigate the hardships of farmers in backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada?” Fadnavis asked. “Farmer suicides started and increased during the Congress-NCP regime. It is the sin of Sharad Pawar and his government,” he added.
Referring to Pawar’s remarks on the issue of farmer suicides at rallies in Vidarbha, the CM said, “You stopped water supply to Vidarbha region. You were a minister at the Centre. Your party was in power in Maharashtra for 15 years (1999-2014). The funds allocated for Vidarbha were siphoned off and diverted to other regions. Who is responsible for this?”
“The irrigation schemes in Vidarbha were accorded last priority. The Congress-NCP government did not sanction the manpower required for expediting irrigation projects in Vidarbha,” he added.
Saturday also saw Fadnavis campaigning for the first time in his constituency of Nagpur South West. “I was invited to fight from Mumbai and Pune, but Mumbai’s glitter can’t attract me. I love to be in my own constituency… I am leaving the task of my victory to you since I won’t be able to come here often. I am sure you will do it,” Fadnavis told a gathering.
“In 2014, your support helped me become the Maharashtra chief minister. I and (Nagpur MP and Union minister) Nitin Gadkariji brought development to Nagpur — be it MIHAN, educational institutes like AIIMS, IIM and Symbiosis, 24×7 water supply, houses for the poor and ownership pattas to slum dwellers. I am sure you will vote me back with greater majority for another term of honest and transparent governance,” he added.
Fadnavis said the Modi government has the target of providing homes to all by 2023. “In Maharashtra, we intend to do this by 2021,” he added.
Terming his opponent, Congress’ Ashish Deshmukh, a bhagoda (escapist), Fadnavis said, “They gave bhagoda candidates against both me and Gadkariji. We don’t enjoy fighting against them. They don’t fight elections. They fight technical elections.” He was referring to Deshmukh seeking rejection of CM’s nomination on the basis of an error on his election affidavit. “One hundred wolves can’t kill a lion,” Fadnavis said.
Taking on Congress, he said: “It’s a disillusioned, frustrated party. I thought its leader Rahul Gandhi would be in Maharashtra to campaign. But he wasn’t seen anywhere. I was told he was in Bangkok…”
On Sharad Pawar saying that Nagpur was becoming the “crime capital under Fadnavis”, the CM said: “He is so scared that he feels every Nagpur resident is a goon.”