Shiv Sena blasts Maharashtra govt over farmer suicides

Farmers suicides in Vidarbha could spell the knell for the partnership between the ruling Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra.

A junior partner in the BJP-led state government, Shiv Sena has aimed sharp barbs at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for reportedly failing to check farmer suicides in the underdeveloped Vidarbha region.

In its mouthpiece Saamna, Shiv Sena said despite the change in the government (from Congress-Nationalist Congress (NCP) coalition to the BJP), no change is visible in the lives of the farmers from Vidarbha, from which both Fadnavis and state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar hail.

“There were high hopes that the new government will bring in the much needed change to improve farmers’ lives but in even the last 24 hours farmers have committed suicides. The earlier Congress-NCP government was responsible for the alleged harassment of farmers and therefore farmers from Vidarbha voted it out and elected the BJP-led government with overwhelming support,” Shiv Sena said the Saamna editorial.

It claimed in the last 20 days, 70 farmers had committed suicide in the region. “The state finance minister has recently announced Chandrapur as dry district in Vidarbha. The sooner the announcement to stop farmers’ suicides is done, the farmers in distress and their families will bless the government,” Shiv Sena said.

Referring to recent reports that US President Barack Obama may have lost a few hours of his life expectancy due to pollution during his recent Delhi visit — the national capital is considered to be the most polluted city in the world — the editorial lashed out at the government and asked it to focus on the farmers who were losing their whole lives rather than a few hours.

The strong words follow Shiv Sena’s bid to increase its presence in Vidarbha, with its legislators and members of Parliament touring in the region. In the Assembly elections held late last year, Shiv Sena had won four and the BJP a record 44 seats in Vidarbha.

At a meet last week, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had made it known that his party would not hesitate to take on the government if it was found to be “working against the people of the state”.

“We are with the people. If the government doesn’t address the issues of the people, if people are made to suffer, we will go against the government,” Thackeray had said, adding that his party had joined the government only to provide it with stability.

This claim was met by Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse’s claim that Shiv Sena could have provided stability without taking up Cabinet positions.