Mumbai: Farmer leader Raju Shetti is willing to join the ‘third front’ if it is formed in the state. He had earlier left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after feeling purportedly “betrayed” over decisions related to the agrarian sector. On Tuesday, he said that there is no difference between the BJP, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). “Third front was there in 2009. I will be part of this if anybody takes initiative,” said Mr Shetti but he also cleared that he won’t take initiative for building it.
Mr Shetti was part of the NDA since 2013. He had fought 2014’s general and assembly elections in an alliance with the BJP and has been elected from the Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency twice. But after the BJP poached his colleague Sadabhau Khot six months back, Mr Shetti decided to end his alliance with the BJP. Since then, Opposition parties, particularly Congress is trying to get Mr Shetti on board. Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan recently visited Mr Shetti’s house and extended a chance of alliance. However, the farmer leader has kept everyone guessing.
Talking to media in Pune, Mr Shetti indicated that he is not keen directly about joining hands with the Congress. “There should be an alliance against the BJP government. We fought against Congress and are now fighting against BJP on same issues. So, we need an alternative that will look after farmer’s issues,” said Mr Shetti.
According to him, Republican Left Democratic Front (RIDALOS) was a good choice to keep equidistant with the BJP and the Congress in Maharashtra. “But I wont take a lead to form such a front. There are many people who may have issue with me leading on this direction. So, I will be happy to be at backside and will join the front if something really solid happens,” Mr Shetti explains.
After leaving the NDA, Mr Shetti has become aggressive on the farmer’s issues. His organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has organised protests on issues like MSPs, sugarcane and cotton recently.