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Declare drought in north Maharashtra, Marathwada: Ashok Chavan

Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan Saturday demanded that the state government declare a drought in north Maharashtra and Marathwada regions as they were facing a severe rain deficit forcing people to walk over five kilometres to get water.

He said that farmlands there were parched despite the Jalyukt Shivar programme of the Devendra Fadnavis government and accused state Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil of repeating promises of commissioning reports, holding cabinet meetings and asking for Central government assistance.

Hitting out at the government for its all round failure, Chavan said, “We will not rest till we throw this government out of power. We are ready to come onto the streets for this demand.”

Chavan was speaking at the party’s “Jan Sangharsh” yatra in Shahada area of Nandurbar district Saturday.

Attacking Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Chavan said, “Sometimes, Nitin Gadkari slips up and speaks the truth. In a recent TV interview, he revealed that the BJP made grand promises because the party never thought it would come to power.”

“From Nitin Gadkari to (BJP national president) Amit Shah, this government has only played chunaavi jumlas (poll riddles) on the people. But Gadkari can make false promises without worrying for the 2019 polls because the BJP will not come back to power,” Chavan said.

Drawing attention to the 2009 loan waiver, undertaken when he was Chief Minister, Chavan claimed that the promises of the Devendra Fadnavis-led government existed only on paper.

“We passed Maharashtras historic 2009 farm loan waiver within 24 hours. This government has promised waivers in every speech and press release, but farmers have still not seen any money in their bank accounts,” Chavan alleged.

He said that Aadhaar was launched in 2010 by the Congress-led UPA government in Nandurbar to put money into the pockets of the people, adding that the BJP was misusing Aadhaar to suppress dissent.

“What did the BJP do with Aadhaar? They linked it to your mobile numbers. They want to use Aadhaar to spy on citizens and keep them under control,” the Congress leader claimed.

“Forget reservations, this government has not been able to offer protection to Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis in Maharashtra. They are taking away the Forest Rights Act, they are cutting rations for Adivasis. Is this their Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas?, Chavan questioned.

Dismissing the governments recent decision to reduce petrol prices by a few rupees, he asked how a government that increases taxes and excise duty can blame global prices (of crude oil) for price rise in the country.

“Now, you cannot go to the petrol pump even with a Rs 100 note. Reducing prices is just a publicity stunt. With petrol at Rs 92, a cut of Rs 2.50 cut makes no difference,” he said.

Referring to the Congress Working Committee’s meeting at Wardha’s Sevagram, commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Chavan criticised the BJP for trying to appropriate Mahatma Gandhis legacy.

“Those who support (Nathuram) Godse in their hearts cannot keep Gandhi in their minds,” he said.

He also questioned the government’s resolve to build monuments to honour Babasaheb Ambedkar and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, calling the BJP “a government of bhoomi poojans”.

In 2015, Narendra Modi performed the bhoomi poojan for the Ambedkar memorial in Mumbai. In 2016, he performed the bhoomi poojan for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharajs statue.

“But by 2018, after spending thousands of crore rupees, only the BJPs new office in New Delhi was built,” Chavan said.

The current phase of the tour across north Maharashtra aims at reviving the Congress’ fortunes at a time when anger against the Devendra Fadnavis-led government is rising to unprecedented levels, Chavan claimed.

“The next government at the Centre and in Maharashtra will be a peoples government, a Congress government,” Chavan asserted.


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