Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has started its preparations for the 2019 Assembly polls apparently after its ambition of winning enough seats to rule Maharashtra alone in the 2014 state elections was not fulfilled.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray has instructed his party ministers to visit drought affected districts, find out lacunaes in government schemes and allocate financial aid to farmers through party funds.
According to Shiv Sena minister Ravindra Waikar, Mr Thackeray has assigned the responsibility of various districts to party ministers.
“The duty of the ministers is to visit the assigned district, meet selected farmers who are in distress and could probably commit suicide, counsel them and allocate a token amount from the party,” he said.
“As of now, eight districts from Marathwada region have been covered by Sena ministers. Senior party leaders and ministers Diwakar Raote, Ramdas Kadam, Subhash Desai have visited districts to understand their situation. Later Uddhavji distributed a certain amount to farmers,” he added.
He said that Shiv Sena has set a target to single-handedly gain power in 2019 assembly polls.
“As an independent party, we have the right to extend our base. Sena is not an exception to it. We have decided to reach the grassroot level and that is why we have started it very soon, instead of starting it in the last two years,” Mr Waikar said.
Shiv Sena has covered Nanded, Aurangabad, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur and other districts during the last two months, he said, adding that on 19th and 20th of this month, Sena ministers and a team of party legislators will visit Dhule and Nandurbar districts from Khandesh region.
“Sena has shortlisted villages and families where the drought situation is very hard-hitting and also shortlisted farmers who are in distress and could end their life, if they do not get financial and moral support from some mechanism,” Mr Waikar said.
“Sena ministers are holding meetings with district collectors and Tehsildars; information is being collected on government schemes not being implemented, lacunae in schemes and local needs. The minister prepares a fact report and submits it to Uddhavji,” he added.
He said that Mr Thackeray later distributes Rs. 10,000 to the family of distressed farmers.
“Though the amount is not huge, it gives relief and diverts their mind from committing suicide,” Mr Waikar said, adding, more than 10,000 farmers have benefited by Sena’s scheme up till now.
Mr Waikar further said that once the remaining parts of Vidarbha, Western Maharashtra and Konkan are completed, a compiled report will be submitted to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by Mr Thackeray.
He further said that Shiv Sena expects that the Fadnavis government considers the report that will guide the government.
When asked to state the reason behind this initiative, Mr Waikar said, “We are following late Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology who had taught us give 80 per cent preference to social responsibilities and 20 to politics.”
He said that the government has failed to give relief to distressed farmers and hence the Shiv Sena is using the amount that has been collected through the auction of Mr Thackeray’s photographs.