Maharashtra Assembly: Opposition walks out over government’s stand on milk stir

Amid an agitation by farmers outfits demanding higher procurement prices for milk, the Opposition today created a ruckus on the issue and, siding with the agitators, walked out of the Maharashtra Assembly.

They accused the government of being “anti-farmer” and “indifferent” to their plight.

The government hit back by stating that it was farmers groups, led by MP Raju Shetti-headed Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, which were “anti-farmer”.

The government claimed that it was not peasants, but federations representing them that have stopped milk supply which in turn was causing “loss” to farmers.

While the members from the Congress and the NCP shouted slogans against the government, Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade said that he would ask Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to convene a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issues raised.

Not satisfied with the announcement, the Opposition staged a walkout.

Dairy farmers have taken to streets today in several parts of the state seeking higher prices for milk and transferring of Rs 5 per litre in their accounts directly.

“The Speaker has announced that there will be a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issues. But the government is being indifferent. Both the BJP and Shiv Sena are being anti-farmer,” Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said.

“The government is not serious towards the demands raised by the farmers, but we are with them,” he added.

Vikhe-Patil, without naming anyone, alleged that “capitalists” had decided to damage the businesses of dairy farmers and end the co-operative movement.

He accused the Shiv Sena of adopting double standards by “expressing solidarity with farmers on one hand and continuing to be in the government on the other.”

“The Shiv Sena is doing theatrics. Walk out of the government if you are serious,” Vikhe-Patil said, pointing towards Shiv Sena MLAs in the House.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar observed that the dairy farmers invest Rs 17 to Rs 21 to produce a litre of milk. He pitched for a rate of Rs 30 per litre to be given to dairy farmers.

“We also want the government to transfer Rs 5 as subsidy (per litre) directly into the accounts of farmers,” he said.

Pawar too charged the Shiv Sena with “hoodwinking” farmers on the issue.

Countering the Oppositions attack, minister Chandrakant Patil noted that it was the bodies representing dairy farmers, and not the farmers, who have launched the protest on the issue.

“It is the co-operative milk federations which have stopped collecting milk from farmers. These federations are causing losses to farmers. It is not farmers who are throwing milk on the streets but these bodies which are doing so,” he told the House.

“This is an anti-farmer protest. Milk collection and supply to cities should begin. The government will not allow (any disturbance),” Patil said.

Meanwhile, state minister Ravindra Waikar, also a Shiv Sena MLA, hit back at the opposition parties over the “double standard” jibe directed at his party.

“Like one sees everything in a yellow hue after contracting jaundice, the opposition too blames the Shiv Sena over every issue,” Waikar countered.

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