Uddhav demands loan waiver for farmers; slams govt over security at Delhi borders

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Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Feb 12 (PTI) Amid a Delhi Chalo protest call given by farmers' bodies, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray on Monday appealed to the Centre to waive crop loans and face Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a public meeting during his tour of the Marathwada region, Thackeray slammed the government for "laying thorns and nails" in the path of agriculturists on borders of the national capital and deploying police personnel against them.

He also claimed phone calls are being made to farmers in Maharashtra and they are asked whether they will vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections.

"I had announced a loan waiver for farmers in Maharashtra up to Rs 2 lakh when I was chief minister and also implemented it. If I can waive loans of farmers in Maharashtra, then why can't the BJP government which has been in power at the Centre for the last ten years do so? The government should grant a loan waiver and then face elections," Thackeray said.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader claimed he had a phone call recording wherein a farmer questioned the caller about the steps taken so far by the Centre to help soybean producers in the state.

Notably, several farmer associations, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, have called for the march to Delhi on February 13 to demand a law guaranteeing MSP for their produce, one of the conditions they had set when they agreed to withdraw their agitation in 2021.

"If the Central government is working for farmers then why did it put thorns and nails in their path and dug trenches, besides deploying thousands of policemen," Thackeray said.

He said the Union government has not acted on its promise of offering a 50 per cent higher price than the cost of cultivation.

"The BJP says it has eradicated poverty but at the same time, it is giving free ration to 80 crore people in the country," Thackeray added.

He termed state home minister Devendra Fadnavis "shameless" for his "dog coming under vehicle" remark the latter had made to counter the Opposition over its claim of "deteriorating law and order" in the state.

"He is shameless. If Fadnavis thinks people are dogs and cats, then the BJP should seek votes from dogs and cats. But no dog will vote for them as the dog is a loyal animal," Thackeray added.

The Maharashtra government is under flak in view of the recent incidents of shootings. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Abhishek Ghosalkar was killed during Facebook Live recently allegedly by a man over some past disputes in Mumbai.

Responding to the Opposition's charge, Fadnavis had said that Ghosalkar's killing was a serious incident, "but even if a dog were to come under a vehicle, they (opposition) will seek the home minister's resignation". PTI AW NSK