Rahul Gandhi’s padyatra welcomed by NDA constituents
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi interacts with farmers during his 15-km padyatra in Amravati district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. (Source: PTI photo)
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s 15 km day long padyatra has found support from very unexpected quarters in Maharashtra. Farmer’s leader MP Raju Shetti, whose Swabhimani Paksha is a part of the ruling NDA other than welcoming Gandhi’ fight for farmer’s cause signaled that he was ready to join forces with the Congress to “fight for the rights of the farmers”.
Gandhi kicked off his march in Vidharbha to highlight the agrarian distress plaguing the region.
The state Congress hope to reinvent its flagging fortunes in Maharashtra using this connection.
As to be expected, the ruling BJP Shiv Sena coalition has dismissed the march as political gimmick and had pointed out that the fortune of farmers had dipped considerably during the 15 years of NCP and Congress rule.
Shetti, who earlier had crossed swords with the BJP on the issue of land acquisition ordinance said Gandhi is expected to take up issues related to failure of the government as an opposition party leader. “Rahul Gandhi took a long time to realise the problems with the sector but at least he has chosen to highlight the farm crisis. Although I will not be actively supporting him, he has my good wishes,”he said. Asked if he would consider active support, Shetti said he will not be approaching the Congress for any understanding, however he added in the same breath that he will not be averse to some understanding in case the Congress approaches him. “If they approach us, we will think about it positively. There is no problem in giving them issue based support,” he said.
Shetti’s discomfort with the BJP has also stemmed from the later’s growing cosiness with NCP. Both prime minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had publicly acknowledged NCP supermo Sharad Pawar and said he would be a guiding force for the government. Also in the recently concluded Sugar Conclave, the state government had failed to invite Shetti but had invited Pawar and majority of the NCP controlled sugar mills. Swabhimani leaders also pointed out how the BJP has refused to accommodate them in the state or union cabinet despite pre election promises.
Senior leaders of the Swambhimani Paksha said that informal talks with the Congress had started to see if any undestanding can be reached between both the parties. A section of the leadership said that the present sugarcane crisis is specially harmful to Shetti and his party. “Kolhapur region has around 32 per cent backlog in cane payment. Also many of the factories in the area are yet to stop crushing which is preventing us from hitting the street. In case the party join hands tactically with the Congress, we can get support in this sector,” said a senior leader.
Party spokesperson Yogesh Pande said that the party had worked with the BJP to defeat the Congress NCP alliance in the state but have got nothing in return. “We are ready to join any one who is working for the farmer’s right,” he said.
Source:: Indian Express