Mumbai: As the Maharashtra farmers' strike pointed to a looming crisis on its second day, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis came under the combined onslaught by the Opposition and ally Shiv Sena on Friday.
"This is an unprecedented strike in the country's history, but dubbed as insignificant by the government... The farmers must not call off their agitation till complete loan waiver is announced," Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar said.
Fadnavis has termed the strike politically motivated and said it is only going to affect the farmers.
Taking umbrage over statements made by Fadnavis on Thursday, Congress state president Ashok Chavan asked him to "submit evidence" before making wild allegations against the Opposition.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "winning the (2014) elections by resorting to lies and cheating the public and farmers".
Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut criticised the BJP and Fadnavis, demanding they should take action instead of indulging in criticism.
"An attempt is being made to defame and discredit the farmers who have now become leaders. We are very firm in our stand, now it's time for the government to take firm action before things go out of hand," Raut said.
Pawar said by giving hints of writing off loans for small farmers, the Maharashtra government is "attempting to divide the farmers" and trying to break the strike.
"However, I request the farmers not to waste huge quantities of milk, fruits or vegetables on the roads. Instead, donate them to the poor and needy in the villages," Pawar appealed.
An agitated Chavan said instead of making "wild and irresponsible" allegations against the Opposition, Fadnavis should do some soul-searching to understand why the government has lost farmers' confidence who have resorted to a massive agitation.
"The government has lost its bearing after seeing the massive response by the farmers during the Opposition's Sangharsh Yatras in the state in the past few months, and the (BJP) leaders have resorted to even abusing farmers," Chavan said.
Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he asked: "What happened to your assurances (on farmers issues) during the 'Chai Pe Charcha' before elections?"
In a severe critique, Raj Thackeray said "farmers and soldiers are dying all over the country, but the BJP is happy" as he expressed his party's full support to the farmers' strike.
"The BJP made big assurances before the polls, but cannot implement them now. Where's the money? They are busy renaming existing schemes and policies to mislead the people," blasted Thackeray.
Earlier on Friday, veteran social crusader Anna Hazare also came out in support of the farmers and even offered to negotiate with the government on their behalf.
Joining the farmers' cause, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Maharashtra, demanded convening of a special session of the legislature to discuss the issues concerning the agriculture sector as the Fadnavis government "cannot be trusted to give these issues" priority attention.
An AAP spokesperson said its activists have joined the agitation in several parts of the state and are creating an awareness drive in urban areas to highlight the plight of the farming community.
The government has invited the Kisan Kranti, an umbrella organisation of all farmer groups spearheading the current strike, for talks on Friday night.
Published Date: Jun 02, 2017 09:06 pm | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 09:08 pm