Nagpur: ” When the state is reeling under an unprecedented four years’ continuous deficit rainfall and famine conditions; when all parties irrespective of their differences should come together to assure suffering farmers’ of their support, it is regretful that the opposition parties of Maharashtra have taken a confrontational stand and are playing politics when we are faced with such a dire natural disaster” said Devendra Fadnavis, taking the opposition to task hours after they had made known their decision to boycott his customary tea party before the Winter session begins.
He was accompanied by some senior cabinet colleagues like Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Eknath Khadse, Pankaja Munde, Sudhir Mungantiwar etc. Specially present was Lonikar whose relative has recently committed suicide which has been registered by the local police as a ‘farmer suicide’.
While speaking at their press conference Vikhe Patil and Dhananjay Munde had used the above instance to rub salt in the Government’s wound by stating that “not only farmers have committed suicide; their daughters and young sons’ are also taking their lives….even relatives of present government Minister’s have taken the tragic step, what more proof does anyone want that Fadnavis government has failed farmers completely?”
Fadnavis was cut to the quick by this allegation – at his tea party, that seemed a tame affair with no opposition leader present and only a handful of his Ministers sitting by him.
The tea party thus ended up becoming another Press Conference with C.M. scotching all opposition’s allegations one by one, not very conclusively or credibly, and then facing a barrage of questions from the large contingent of journalists’ present.
He said his government had began taking measures like providing fodder to animals, distributing cheap food grains to farmers, setting up diesel pumps, having new wells dug and irrigation schemes Jalayukt vihar in right earnest.
The CM seemed clearly on the defensive and gave technical replies to many questions on farmers’ suicide figures, the state’s fiscal deficit ( which he claimed was a legacy of the Congress government) and rising price of Tur dal.
“Tur dal prices are high all over the country, in all the states, not just Maharashtra, even Karnataka is facing the same problem” he emphasized.
He did not speak on the issue of Orange farmers when NT asked about it – “I will speak in the House on this subject” he said.
At the end, Babanrao Lonikar, Water Supply and Sanitation Minister, made a statement to the press people taking pains to explain that his relative who had committed suicide was a wealthy farmer and had sold soybean and other crops at a good price this year.
“I attended his funeral and spoke to his mother and other close relatives. They said that it was the neighbours who had reported the death to the police as a ‘farmer suicide’ case and so it was registered thus. Actually it was suicide due to some internal family disturbance that had nothing to do with crop failure of famine conditions” reiterated Lonikar.
One wonders since when police have taken to registering FIRs based purely on neighbour’s versions?