Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray. Pic/AFP
Taking a dig at its ally, the BJP, the Shiv Sena on Monday said distressed farmers would have got relief had the Maharashtra government announced a complete loan waiver in its Budget. It claimed that despite the government allotting Rs 25,000 crore in the previous year's Budget for the agriculture sector, more than 3,000 farmers committed suicide during this period.
"The finance minister in his Budget speech said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers. But, had this been clearly reflected in numbers, distressed farmers would have got a lot of relief," the Sena said in an editorial in the party's mouthpiece 'Saamana'. "In the previous year's Budget, the finance minister had announced Rs 25,000 crore for agriculture. Yet, more than 3,000 farmers committed suicide during the last one year," it claimed. All schemes announced in the Budget for farmers and the agriculture sector would be of use only if farmers are alive, it said.
"Monsoon was good this year and hence we have a good Kharif crop. But, falling prices in the market, demonetisation and the recent unseasonal rains and hailstorms have once again troubled farmers. "Thus, this is the best time to announce Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and a complete loan waiver for farmers," the Sena said. The finance minister did not show the courage to write-off loan remarks from the 7/12 extracts of the farmers, the Sena said. "Had the finance minister announced a complete loan waiver, the other schemes announced by him would have shone brightly and farmers, distressed by calamities, would have got relief. But the government lost the chance," the Sena said.
Notably, during the presentation of the Budget, the Sena, unlike Opposition parties that stuck to their demand for a loan waiver and kept shouting slogans, kept mum and supported the BJP. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had a day prior to the Budget, taken senior Sena leaders to meet Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Radha Mohan Singh, to persuade the Centre to share the costs of loan waiver for farmers.