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Ruckus in Maharashtra Assembly, Sena calls for farm loan waiver

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was on Wednesday adjourned for the day without transacting any business after it witnessed noisy scenes as Shiv Sena legislators joined Opposition Congress and NCP to demand loan waiver for distressed farmers.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, Leader of Opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil through an adjournment notice highlighted the plight of farmers across the state after consecutive droughts and said there was no alternative other than granting them a loan waiver.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar asked the BJP government to recall how its ministers, while in Opposition would raise farmers’ woes.

“When industries are given loan waivers, why is the government not doing the same to farmers,” he asked.

Subsequently, Opposition members entered the well of the House and began shouting slogans. They were later joined in the protest by Shiv Sena legislators. However, they were not seen sloganeering.

As noisy scenes ruled the House, it was adjourned first for 15 minutes by Speaker Haribhau Bagde and then for the second time till the end of the Question Hour.

When the House resumed, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the government was pro-farmer and wanted them to be debt-free.

Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar said the Opposition’s demand was “unrealistic”.

“We have never opposed the demand for loan waiver. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already said loan waiver to farmers will be considered at an appropriate time. We want the farmers to be efficient in terms of agriculture production and then consider the loan waiver demand, he said.

As Opposition members remained firm on their demand and continued with their slogan shouting, presiding officer Sudhakar Deshmukh (of the BJP) adjourned the House for the day.

Sena had made a representation to the Chief Minister demanding loan waiver for farmers amidst heated and acrimonious campaign for the recent civic polls.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had even said that if their demand is accepted, his party would extend support to the BJP for the rest of the five-year term.

Congress, also in a representation to the CM on the issue, had earlier said that ever since the BJP government came to power, the condition of farmers has deteriorated and there has been a rise in farmer suicides in the last two years.