Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said Saturday it was time the Maha Vikas Aghadi government “stopped blaming the Centre” and took concrete measures to provide financial help to dairy farmers across Maharashtra.
His comments came on a day when the opposition, BJP, spearheaded protests demanding a hike in milk procurement prices for dairy farmers in various parts of the state.
“The state government should provide a subsidy of Rs 10 per litre for milk and Rs 50 per kg for milk powder,” Fadnavis said. Unless the state government extends support, the former chief minister said, farmers’ livelihood would continue to be under threat. “Even the basic input expenditure cannot be recovered as milk rates have come down to Rs 15 per litre from Rs 27 per litre,” he added.
Refuting the state government’s charge that the Centre’s decision to import 10,000 metric tonne skimmed milk powder had triggered a crisis in the state, Fadnavis said, “Not one gram of skimmed milk powder [has been] imported from any country by the Centre. Those making such allegations are deliberately misleading the farmers.”
Earlier, state Cooperation minister Balasaheb Patil
and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetti had held the Centre’s import policy for lower milk prices.
“Raju Shetti is not fighting for farmers’ right. He is speaking the government’s language, which is surprising,” Fadnavis added.
As part of their daylong protest, the state BJP leaders Saturday distributed milk to the poor and needy across the state to highlight the plight of dairy farmers.
At Maval, BJP’s state unit president Chandrakant Patil slammed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for its indifference towards farmers problems. Patil accused the state government of leaving the dairy farmers in the lurch while reiterating the demand for a subsidy of Rs 10 per litre on milk and Rs 50 per kg for skimmed milk powder.
“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray keeps himself busy till 1 am when it comes to carrying out police transfers. But he has no concern nor time to address farmers’ problems… If Thackeray does not understand matters related to agriculture and farmer, he should consult or give responsibilities to [either] his Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar or Cooperation Minister Balasaheb Patil, who are well versed in these subjects,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition in the state Council, Praveen Darekar, and the party’s Mumbai unit chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha staged demonstrations in Mumbai. BJP general secretary Chandrashekhar Bawankule led a group of workers and staged protests in Nagpur, while former state agriculture minister and Kisan cell chief Anil Bonde demonstrated in Amravati. In Ahmednagar, senior BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and others were arrested for protesting.
The BJP agitation was supported by its allies Shiv Sangram, Ryat Kranti Party, Republican Party and Rashtriya Samaj Party.