Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday asked the party rank and file to get ready for simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and assemblies in states where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power, including Maharashtra.

The NCP chief told a party meeting in Mumbai that public opinion was turning against BJP-led governments at the centre and in the state, and asked leaders and workers to hit the election trail.

At a press conference later, Pawar announced that the NCP would hold a conference on 5 November at Aurangabad in Marathwada on farmers’ issues.

“At this conference, we will come up with a strategy to carry out protests on farmers’ issues, in particular the fake farm-loan waiver in Maharashtra," Pawar said.

The NCP would also launch agitation on other issues like price rise, economic slowdown, and loss of jobs, he added.

Objecting to the riders put in place by the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra for the farm loan waiver, Pawar asked: “Why is the government insisting on eligibility criteria and formalities when it has announced a blanket loan waiver? Farmer suicides continue at the same rate and economic slowdown has hit other sectors like small and medium enterprises."

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic initiatives like demonetization and the ill-timed introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) had triggered an economic slowdown and price rise of consumer goods.

In this context, Pawar attacked the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train which he said would not offer any relief to the railway commuter. “There is no visible effort to reduce the difficulties of common commuters but a fancy project like bullet train is being pushed through," he said.

The NCP chief also charged the Modi government with helping Japan tide over its economic recession by taking its financial support for the bullet train project. “Japan is home to a big high-speed train industry but there is no market for its bullet trains. We are helping Japan tide over its economic recession by implementing the bullet train project," Pawar said.

The Mumbai and Thane units of NCP staged a rail blockade on Tuesday morning to protest against the bullet train project in the wake of the Elphinstone Road station stampede on 29 September that left 23 commuters dead.