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Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has swung into a damage control exercise to re-connect with farmers across the state between May 24 and 28. Beginning from Latur district, amongst the worst drought-hit areas in the state, he would hold interactions with farmers. Fadnavis has assigned 4,000 individuals, including ministers and elected members, to cover 16,000 villages on May 24. And in the four days, they should cover 40,913 villages.
The carpet communication drive, ‘Samvad Yatra’, is part of the party’s move to undo the damage caused to its image following state BJP president Raosaheb Danve’s derogatory comment against farmers this week. Danve had said: “Although the government has given permission to procure additional one lakh tonne of tur (pulses), they are still crying ‘saale’.” The statement had evoked sharp reactions across political parties and farmers’ organisations in the state.
As part of Samvad Yatra, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will campaign in Chandrapur district (Vidarbha), minister for revenue Chandrakant Patil will travel to Kolhapur (western Maharashtra), education minister Vinod Tawde will visit Konkan and rural development minister Pankaja Munde would be in Beed.
Danve will also participate in the farmers’ communication drive and he would be in North Maharashtra. A source in the BJP said: “We had planned a 14-day campaign that would attempt to expand the organisation and highlight the government’s work, both at the Centre and the state.”
While the schedule would continue, the programme between May 24 and 28 would be totally dedicated to farmers and their problems and solutions.
The cabinet minister for skill development and labour, Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar and MLA Sanjay Kute have been deputed to coordinate the entire programme.
Kute said: “Samvad Yatra will ensure that every individual will cover four villages a day. It is left to the individual to try and reach the maximum number of people through a dozen or more meetings in open fields.
A BJP political manager said: “In some way, our Samvad Yatra would be a befitting reply to Congress-NCP’s Sangharsh Yatra and Shiv Sena’s Sampark Yatra.
A party official said: “Through communication with farmers, we would discuss policy reforms of the Centre and the state. We would explain to them our policy of double farmers income through crop pattern changes, group farming and agro-industrial investments.”
Among the projects that would be spoken about in every village are Jalyukta Shivar, farm ponds, solar power-driven agriculture and subsidies for drip irrigation. The party would share concepts on how to avoid “dobar perni” (double sowing) of crops as it leads to higher expenditure.
The Opposition leader of the Congress, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, said: “Following our Sangharsh Yatra, the BJP government had to hold Samvad Yatra.”