Vidarbha on Boil

Loan waiver won’t be effective as BT-Cotton has ended future of cotton farmers

By Prabhakar Kulkarni

The urban-rural divide is in focus after the elections in Gujarat. But this is not limited to any state. This is a nationwide phenomenon and therefore needs urgent attention. While each state has to consider the farm sector’s plight in its own state, new ways and means should be found out so that the crisis is urgently faced with implementation of the development schemes as also remedial measures for farmers in distress.

In view of this situation Maharashtra has responded to various demands in regard to the farm sector and the ruling BJP government has provided relief to the distressed farmers in all areas and also in the Marathwada and Vidarbh region. The opposition had created furore in the recent state Assembly session. But the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reacted well by acceding to the demands. At the same time defending his position by ‘Dullamar’ term indicating the scams to the credit of the Congress-NCP during their previous regime, he turned down the aggressive stance of the opposition with the ‘Hullabol’ agitation against the government.

Despite loan waiver the suicide spree continued in various parts of the state. More so in the cotton growing region of Vidarbha because of the failure of the cotton crop caused by the BT-cotton seeds and the relevant infestation. During the span of five months, 448 farmers committed suicide in six districts of the Vidarbha region. The demand to ban the companies providing the cotton seeds is voiced by both the opposition parties as also the farmers’ organizations. What exactly is the cause of the said infestation of the cotton crop needs to be investigated by the agricultural scientists and the report should be made public.

The delay in getting the relief of farm loan waiver and the undue goof-up is disclosed to be due to the faulty implementation by the bureaucratic cadres in the state Mantralay as also in the district administrations. The complicated forms to be filled by farmers who are not in the know of technicalities have proved to be detrimental to the due gain of the waiver scheme. The district collectors and chief administrative officers of the Zilla Parishads in various districts have failed to create awareness among farmers about the way and method of getting the benefit of the state government’s loan waiver policy. Even the instant relief of Rs. 10 thousands to be credited to all farmers was not made available as due awareness was not created by the officials including those of the agriculture department.

The state information department has failed to issue necessary notifications and media press notes in this regard with the result that the needy farmers could not get even the instant relief of the said amount. The recent inaction of the state information department in regard to keeping contact with the media organizations and dissemination of the government schemes seems to be one of the reasons of the failure of the pro-farmer policy of the state government.

On political front, Congress party and Rahul Gandhi in particular is being glorified by the Shivsena after the Gujarat victory in challenging the BJP and Modi by creating a sizeable opposition. This is more so because after the BJP’s victory, the BJP leader Ashish Shelar celebrated it with derogatory remarks against Samana and Shivsena. Being perturbed by the adverse campaign, daily Samana’s editorial harped on the Hardik Patel’s interpretation of the BJP’s victory as ‘more due to the EVM machination than voters’ inclination and hence the machines should be garlanded with fire crackers instead of felicitating  the BJP leaders, comments the editorial.

In his Sunday column, ‘Rokh Thok’ (Hard Beat ) Sena MP and Samana’s executive editor Sanjay Raut has highly glorified Rahul Gandhi as ‘an inevitable national leader with infusion of new life and energy in the Congress party. With this open alliance to the Congress and practical siding with both the Congress and the NCP in politics of local self government bodies a new equation is imminent to form the powerful alliance to counter the BJP’s strategy of expansionism and neutralizing the regional linguistic parties in various states. The Maharashtra formula may well be considered as a model to be followed in other states.

In this background, the NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s leading an opposition procession at Nagpur Assembly session along with the Congress and appeal to farmers to stop any statutory payment to the state government and resort to a sort of non-cooperative movement is indicative of the potential strategy to pose challenge to the ruling BJP government. Pawar’s similar strategy against the AR Antulay government 37 years ago in 1980 is worth remembering in this regard.

One of the fallout of the similar procession, which was a declaration of war on government, was the eventual exit of Antulay as chief minister though it did not necessarily mean that Pawar and his then splinter party, the Congress (S), could restore power in the state. Pawar had to merge his Congress (S) with the judgment that an alliance with the Congress might be more beneficial to his party than one with the BJP.

But the Chief Minister Fadnavis has strategically came out with the announcement of the FIR in the much publicized irrigation scam in which along with the officials, the NCP leaders are involved and though the list of the accused officials is brought on record, that of the NCP leaders is kept as reserved for the eventual crisis of an attempt to topple the government. Though the strategy is quite counter- powerful, the ruling BJP needs due vigilance in view of the new equation of Congress-NCP-Shivsena which is hinted by its ally in the government, the Shivsena.