Minister’s ‘fake farmers’ claim draws SSS wrath

The Asian Age.

Metros, Mumbai

Interestingly, no one from the BJP has come out to defend Mr Patil, who is also chairman of Cabinet sub-committee for the farm loan waiver. 

Chandrakant Patil

Mumbai: Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil’s statement about the existence of 10 lakh bogus farmers seems to have hurt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in rural constituencies. Swabhimani Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti warned the government his party would launch an agitation while the farmers’ core committee slammed Mr Patil. Interestingly, no one from the BJP has come out to defend Mr Patil, who is also chairman of Cabinet sub-committee for the farm loan waiver. 

Mr Patil while recently speaking to the media in Kolhapur had cited the existence of bogus farmers as the reason behind the delay in implementation of farmer’s loan waiver. He had said, “Out of 89 lakh farmers in the state, 10 lakh could be fake or bogus. Therefore, verification of actual eligible farmers for the loan waiver scheme is taking time. (This) will take time till October end.” 

But the minister’s statement has invited trouble for the government. The Swabhimani Sanghatana, which recently parted ways with the BJP as a partner, criticised Mr Patil’s comments. “Farmers are not bogus. They are honest. If anyone is bogus then it is Mr Patil himself,” said SSS chief Mr Shetti. He also warned that the government should restrain itself from making such statements. “You are not giving farmers their due. These statements are making them angry. It will be good if the BJP leadership asks Mr Patil and others like him to keep quiet,” said Mr Shetti. 

The farmers’ core committee, which was formed in June 2017 at the time of the farmers’ strike, has criticised Mr Patil’s statement. “This shows that the government wants to buy time. But, we will start protesting against the government if the scheme does not get implemented by October 1,” said Ajit Navale, convenor of the core committee.  

Interestingly, even as Mr Patil’s statement has caused controversy, no BJP leader has come to his rescue. 

“Chandrakantdada is number two in Cabinet and also senior leader of party. But the way the party is mum on the issue suggests that, either the party wants to brush (the issue) aside or nobody wants to side with him,” commented a senior leader and BJP minister on the condition of anonymity.