- Both Houses of Maharashtra legislature adjourned amid din
MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was today adjourned for the day without transacting any business after it witnessed noisy scenes as Shiv Sena legislators joined Opposition Congress and NCP to demand loan waiver for distressed farmers.
As soon as the House assembled for the day, Leader of Opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil through an adjournment notice highlighted the plight of farmers across the state after consecutive droughts and said there was no alternative other than granting them a loan waiver.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar asked the BJP government to recall how its ministers, while in Opposition would raise farmers' woes.
"When industries are given loan waivers, why is the government not doing the same to farmers," he asked.
Subsequently, Opposition members entered the well of the House and began shouting slogans. They were later joined in the protest by Shiv Sena legislators. However, they were not seen sloganeering.
As noisy scenes ruled the House, it was adjourned first for 15 minutes by Speaker Haribhau Bagde and then for the second time till the end of the Question Hour.
When the House resumed, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the government was pro-farmer and wanted them to be debt-free.
Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar said the Opposition's demand was "unrealistic".
"We have never opposed the demand for loan waiver.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already said loan waiver to farmers will be considered at an appropriate time. We want the farmers to be efficient in terms of agriculture production and then consider the loan waiver demand, he said.
As Opposition members remained firm on their demand and continued with their slogan shouting, presiding officer Sudhakar Deshmukh (of the BJP) adjourned the House for the day.
Sena had made a representation to the Chief Minister demanding loan waiver for farmers amidst heated and acrimonious campaign for the recent civic polls.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had even said that if their demand is accepted, his party would extend support to the BJP for the rest of the five-year term.
Congress, also in a representation to the CM on the issue, had earlier said that ever since the BJP government came to power, the condition of farmers has deteriorated and there has been a rise in farmer suicides in the last two years.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly after it was adjourned for the day, Vikhe Patil demanded that the state government bring a one line resolution in the Lower House tomorrow that it will make a provision for loan waiver to farmers in the state Budget to be presented on March 18.
He said the Opposition will not allow smooth
functioning of the House unless the government makes a commitment to announce a loan waiver in the Budget which will be presented by Sudhir Mungantiwar.
He charged that the government has lost the trust of the people as well as its allies like the Shiv Sena.
"Shiv Sena joined us in the demand for loan waiver in the Lower House. We are amazed that the government says it will announce a loan waiver at an appropriate time. What time can be more appropriate than this time when the farmers are distressed due to three years of consecutive drought, unseasonal rains and lack of good support price for their crop," he asked.
"Is Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis waiting for more farmers to commit suicide. Since January this year, 262 farmers have committed suicide. Similarly, 9000 farmers have committed suicide in the last two and half years," he claimed.
Vikhe Patil said the Opposition had demanded in the House that the day's business be set aside and the decision of loan waiver be taken by the government to provide relief to farmers.
"We had met the Governor before the start of the Budget session requesting that he issue directions to the government to provide relief to the farmers. We wanted the issue to be highlighted in the Governor's address to the Legislature on the first day of the session. But unfortunately farmers' welfare is not on the priority list of the government," he alleged.
On Sena joining the Opposition in the House, he said if Sena leaders were honest, they should submit their resignations to the Speaker, as BJP has not met the loan waiver demand.
Earlier, before the Assembly began, Congress and NCP members were seen protesting outside the House demanding immediate loan waiver for farmers. The agitation was led by Vikhe Patil, Ajit Pawar, NCP's Leader of Opposition in Upper House, Dhananjay Munde and Congress leader Varsha Gaikwad.
The leaders protested in the Assembly premises holding placards with demands highlighting farmer issues.