NAGPUR: Farmers in the suicide-prone rural Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have apparently voted overwhelmingly for the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, a top farm activist said here on Monday.
According to a post-poll analysis, the saffron allies bagged 52 of the 80 seats in the rural heartland, but lost out miserably in the remaining 28 seats falling in urban areas, felling several ministers, said Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari.
These urban seats included at least five ministers, three from BJP and two from Shiv Sena, who were shown the door by the people - Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde from Parli (Beed), Agriculture Minister Anil Bonde in Morshi (Amravati) and Tribal Minister Parinay Fuke in Sakoli (Nagpur).
From the Sena, prominent among those who were defeated are: Water Conservation Minister Jaydutta Kshirsagar from Beed and Minister of State Cooperative Marketing Arjun Khotkar from Jalna.
"The primary reason for the support and confidence reimposed by the farmers in the distressed farmlands was due to the VNSSM's massive grassroots work in the past nearly five years, especially in the 14 worst suicide-hit districts," Tiwari told IANS.
Among other things, he and his team made deep inroads in the hinterlands to ensure all farmers were included in various rural welfare schemes, the debt-waiver policy, food and health security for the farmers and their families, besides arranging for fresh credits, he said.
Tiwari said during its first tenure (co-terminus with tenure of the state government), the VNSSM has independently pursued causes relevant to the agriculture sector and rural economy, and succeeded in overcoming many political and bureaucratic obstacles posed due to the compulsions of coalition politics.
"Some of these included convincing the nationalised banks to provide fresh farm credits, the benefits of health schemes, efforts to secure minimum support price for farm produce, success in implementing programmes such as 'Government At Your Doorstep' in 6,000 villages and sensitizing the administration to be public-oriented," Tiwari said.
These efforts helped the BJP-Sena 'Maha-Yuti' taste success by bagging six our of seven seats in Yavatmal, three seats in Akola, two of four in Buldhana, two of three in Washim and three of four in Wardha.
"The farmers have rejected outright those candidates whom they perceived were working for self-interests rather than the farmers' welfare. This is a clear warning for all the political parties, especially the ruling side," said Tiwari.