SSS undaunted as AAP tries to woo farmers in Maharashtra

Jan 20, 2014, 04:29 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Aam Aadmi Party focuses on farmer issues in rain-fed areas in the state, but Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana is confident that its vote base of sugarcane farmers will remain intact

After announcing that it would contest all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in its maiden attempt to woo the farmers, has today organised a seminar to discuss various issues of farmers. Importance, however, would be given to problems faced by farmers from rain-fed Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, rather than those of the sugarcane farmers.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana MP Raju Shetti. Pic/Krunal Gosavi.

Incidentally, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, which has been rigorously supporting the sugarcane farmers, joined Mahayuti after failing to get satisfactory response from AAP to form pre-election alliance. The AAP’s support to farmers from rain-fed regions could affect the farmers’ votes.

SSS founder, MP Raju Shetti, however, rubbished the possibility of a division of farmers’ votes between AAP and Mahayuti. Member of the AAP’s district executive committee, Rajesh Mittal, said, “If we want to focus on Maharashtra, it is necessary for us to know the issues affecting farmers in the state. We would try to discuss the issues and efforts will be made to solve them.”

The party is expecting to receive a good response from farmers across the state, especially from Vidarbha and Marathwada. Another member of the AAP district executive committee, Maruti Bhapkar, said that the state’s issues are completely different from Delhi’s local issues, where the party showed an outstanding performance.

“Focus is always on sugarcane farmers who indulge in cash crop farming. Farmers from rain-fed areas are relatively ignored, and that is why the party will discuss its policy for farmers in the state, which would be announced after a discussion with the national leadership,” said Bhapkar. He also indicated that like the SSS, the AAP has also emerged out of protests.

MP Raju Shetti, who has been fighting for the rights of sugarcane farmers, mainly for fair prices, said that he would be happy if any other party was interested in solving farmer issues, since it would not affect his party’s vote share. “AAP should try to solve farmer issues rather than politicising them. However, I do not fear that farmer votes would be diverted, as I have been working for them for the last 20 years,” said Shetti.

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