BJP ally SSS sets one month deadline to announce farm loan waiver
Mumbai: The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), a Bharatiya Janata Party ally in Maharashtra and a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), on Tuesday set a deadline of one month for the state government to declare a farm loan waiver.
SSS president Raju Shetty, a member of Parliament from Hatkanangle in western Maharashtra, indicated at a farmers’ rally in Mumbai that the SSS would pull out of the BJP-led government and NDA if the farm loan waiver was not granted within a month.
A farmers’ march launched by Shetty in Pune on 25 May reached Mumbai on Monday. Around 5,000 farmers joined the SSS MP on foot in this march, which Shetty said was launched to “atone for the blunder of believing in Narendra Modi and allying with the BJP”. Shetty later met Maharashtra governor C. Vidyasagar Rao and demanded a farm loan waiver.
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The march and the rally in Mumbai, however, also underlined the fissures within the SSS as its legislator and Maharashtra minister of state for agriculture Sadabhau Khot skipped it. Khot has not been on good terms with Shetty and represents the section within the SSS which wants the party to remain in the NDA fold.
Shetty’s rhetoric apart, his parting of ways with BJP, if at all it happens, won’t make any major impact on the state government or the NDA in terms of numbers. Shetty is the only MP of his party and in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly the SSS does not have a single member. Sadabhau Khot is a member of the Maharashtra legislative council and has been elected from the BJP’s quota.
At the rally, Shetty asked his supporters if they wanted SSS to snap ties with the NDA. Most supporters responded saying the SSS should pull out of the government and NDA. The MP then announced the deadline of one month. saying he would like to give “one last chance” to the Devendra Fadnavis government to announce farm loan waiver.