Mumbai: Shiv Sena, the junior partner in Maharashtra’s ruling alliance, has decided to step up the demand for a farm loan waiver, after its senior partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Uttar Pradesh election on a campaign platform that promised such a waiver.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has asked party legislators in both houses to go on the offensive on Wednesday when the legislature resumes its budget session, a Shiv Sena leader and minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government said. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have also decided to join the issue.
Thackeray did not want Congress and NCP to gain “ownership” of the issue, the Sena leader said, on condition of anonymity. “By virtue of being opposition parties, Congress and NCP have taken the lead in raising this demand. But Shiv Sena has been making this demand in its own ways. Since we are part of this government, we are not totally free to raise it in the house like opposition parties. But Uddhavji has said that even if the proceedings get stalled for this demand, Shiv Sena MLAs should not step back,” he added.
The demand for a farm debt waiver has dominated state assembly proceedings ever since the budget session began on 6 March. While the Congress and NCP have been in the forefront, Sena has played its part by occasionally raising slogans in support. The party, however, seems to have revised its strategy after the BJP’s UP victory.
“Soon after the BJP released its manifesto in UP, we met the chief minister and told him that he should waive crop loans in Maharashtra since the BJP is already in power. We congratulate the BJP for winning UP and now expect them to follow their election promise, and do it in Maharashtra also,” said the Sena leader.
The Congress and NCP have called a joint meeting on Wednesday morning to chalk out their strategy on the debt waiver issue. Like the Shiv Sena, the Congress and NCP also see an opportunity to claim credit should the Fadnavis government take this decision. But the NCP has also used the occasion to take a jibe at Shiv Sena. NCP leader and leader of the opposition in legislative council Dhananjay Munde tweeted on Tuesday that instead of asking his legislators to stall the legislature on farm debt waiver, Thackeray should withdraw his ministers from the Fadnavis government.