Maharashtra polls: Farm distress, reservation key challenges for BJP

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on October 10, 2019

Chandrakant Patil, Maharashtra BJP President

Even as Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil, on Wednesday, said the party would permanently retire Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar from his social and political life after the results of the October 21 Assembly elections are declared, the BJP has a lot of ground to cover before getting a sizeable number of seats in the State Assembly.

Agricultural distress, water availability and caste-based reservation for the Dhangar (Shepard) community have emerged as the main issues for the BJP.

Political analyst, Nagesh Kesari said that rainfall is driven by mother nature but water management is in the hands of the State government. Had the Fadnavis-led government managed the waters of Krishna River and its tributaries, Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur would not have suffered the devastating floods in August, he said.

He said water has always been a contentious issue in the State. Areas such as Marathwada region always get a second-hand treatment as the water from the Jayakwadi dam is never distributed equally. Only after water gets distributed to other areas of Maharashtra, that Marathwada gets the supply, “It is similar to getting leftovers of the main feast,” he added.

He said the BJP, which sat in the opposition for many years and raised various issues, never had a strategy for the upliftment of the farmers. It has no long-term vision for developing the the water and agriculture sector of the State. It also has no control over the bureaucracy which could implement some of the programmes.

Reservation issue

Kesari added that caste-based reservation has become a vexing problem as several other castes, including Dhangar and even Brahmins, are demanding reservations. Maharashtra BJP spokesperson, Madhav Bhandari, said getting adequate water supply during summer, and getting good rates for the farm produce are the root of all the problems.

The State government has launched water conservation programmes through Jalyukt Shivar, micro-irrigation and supply of water through closed pipeline instead of an open canal for agriculture. The impact of these programmes would be seen in a few years, he said.

He added that the Agriculture Produce Market Committee was set up to help the farmers but that has become the vehicle of exploitation. Onions get sold at ₹70 but the farmers only make ₹10. Direct sale of farm-produc has been encouraged to eliminate the role of intermediaries. E-NAM platform has been set up for the purpose.

Bhandari added that although the Dhangar community has not been given reservations, 22 benefits have been provided to them. A corpus of ₹1,000 crore has been set aside for their development.

Published on October 10, 2019

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