Nana Patole quits party, Lok Sabha: Rebel Maharashtra BJP leader miffed over handling of farm loan waiver, pesticide deaths

In a significant blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, Nana Patole, a party rebel and member of Parliament, quit the Lok Sabha as well as the BJP on Friday, citing the Central and state government's policy on farmers. Speaking to Firstpost, Patole said that the mismanaged farm loan waiver and the deaths of farmers due to pesticide poisoning—two issues which this website has been consistently reporting on—were among the reasons for him to be unhappy with his party.

Patole sent a cryptic resignation letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday.

Nana Patole's resignation letter. Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

Nana Patole's resignation letter. Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

"I put in my papers as I was feeling suffocated in the party. I felt that the objective for which I joined the party was not being fulfilled," Patole said.

The 54-year-old leader, who represented the Bhandara-Gondiya constituency in Vidarbha in eastern Maharashtra, said, "The loan waiver scheme for farmers was announced six months ago, but the money is still to reach farmers' accounts, which is extremely unfortunate."

On the deaths of farmers allegedly due to pesticide poisoning in the district of Yavatmal, Patole said, "The deaths of these farmers constitute nothing but cold-blooded murder."

He further said, "When the government led by Devendra Fadnavis came to power, it was hoped that measures will be taken to improve the situation of farmers. However, farmer suicides are still continuing. The low minimum support prices for agricultural products are having a very adverse effect. Yet, the chief minister is not doing anything to change the situation."

Earlier in the day, Patole had tweeted saying, "The BJP government is opposed to farmers, agricultural labourers, OBCs and small traders. The government is not concerned with a policy on farmers. Although I repeatedly raised farmers' issues, this government, which is opposed to farmers, did not wake up. Hence, I decided to resign."

Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, "Patole, a BJP MP, has left the party alleging that the government is not sensitive to the rights of farmers. This is indeed a serious matter." On the issue of whether the Congress would take Patole back in the party, Sawant said, "It is Patole who needs to decide whether he wants to return to the Congress. If he wishes to return, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) will take a decision in this regard." Patole, earlier a Congress leader, had left the party in 2008. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, representing the BJP, he defeated senior NCP leader Praful Patel.

The resignation comes at a bad time for the Fadnavis government, with the winter session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly slated to begin on 11 December at Nagpur. The state government is expected to face tough questions on various aspects of the agrarian crisis—including the farm loan waiver, worm infestation in cotton crops and deaths due to pesticide poisoning. Opposition parties have been repeatedly hitting out at the state government on these issues in the recent past.

Patole was recently a part of a sit-in agitation on a number of farmers' issues with senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha at Akola in western Vidarbha.

Nana Patole, a dissident BJP member of Parliament, is a prominent OBC leader from the Vidarbha region. He has been acerbic in his criticism of the Central government and the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government in the recent past. Senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha have also been regularly lashing out at the Central government on various issues although they have not opted out of the party.

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Updated Date: Dec 08, 2017 18:24:15 IST

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