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Opposition parties unite over farmers’ loan waiver issue

Uniting against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government, Opposition parties in Maharashtra have united in a grand show of strength over the farmers’ loan waiver issue. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) top brass shared a stage along with leaders of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Peasants and Workers Party of India and the Communist Party of India among others.

“This is the beginning of a new future. The merging of party flags is the political future of the state. Times are bad and we need to stick together,” said Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Ashok Chavan in a speech at a Panvel rally.

At the rally several Congress, NCP and SP leaders reiterated the Opposition’s demand of a farm loan waiver in Maharashtra. “We hear that the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has announced a loan waiver. Why can’t they do it in Maharashtra when Devendra Fadnavis had announced the same during his election campaign,” asked senior Congress leader Narayan Rane.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar asked the BJP governments in the state and at the Centre whether they had forgotten the loan waiver promise. “From information made available in Parliament, I have learned that 20 nationalised banks have Rs 2,80,494 crore net NPAs. The government is ready to help these banks but not farmers,” he said.

Imploring farmers not to take their own lives, Mr Pawar said that it is now time for them to make the lives of their rulers unbearable.

In the first leg of its campaign, the Opposition had embarked on the Sangharsh Yatra from Chandrapur five days ago. The yatris travelled from 16 districts, covering parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and the Konkan. This is one of the first on-road agitations launched by the Opposition since the BJP-led government came to power in 2014. NCP leader Jitendra Awhad, one of the organisers of the Yatra, clarified that the Opposition would not stop after the first leg. “We have just begun. The second step will be announced soon,” he said.

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