farmers distressmaharashtrashiv senauddhav thackeray First Published: July 12, 2019, 2:25 PM IST Mumbai: Ahead of the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena’s focus is back on farmers in the state and party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s prime target is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. He has warned the insurance companies of a ‘Sena-style’ agitation if they fail to settle the claims of the farmers. The Shiv Sena president has also decided to meet Modi to seek a special session in the Parliament to highlight farmers’ issues. Despite being in power, the party is once again following an Opposition-like strategy. It had benefited by opting for a similar strategy before the Lok Sabha elections and is hoping that a similar move will boost its performance in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections as well. During a discussion with senior journalist P Sainath last week, Uddhav Thackeray had said: “Shiv Sena has always stood by the farmers. I am going to meet the Prime Minister to seek a special parliamentary session on farmers’ issues. Currently, the budget session is going on. And we are raising several points during this session as well. We want complete autonomy for agriculture commission.”On July 17, the Shiv Sena will hold a massive rally in Mumbai against the insurance companies. Led by Uddhav Thackeray, the party leaders will take the ‘maha-morcha’ to Bharti AXA Insurance Office in Bandra-Kurla Complex. “There are several complaints from the farmers that they haven’t got their crop insurance despite paying the premium. Though the scheme is good, the system has not been able to implement it properly. Last time I had threatened the insurance companies that they should not forget that their head offices are in Mumbai. The claim settlement process has begun since then. But even now, our local level offices are flooded with complaints from the farmers. We will not tolerate this. So, this maha-morcha will be symbolic. But it will be against all insurance companies. If they fail to understand this, we will have to speak in our language to them,” Thackeray said.Despite being in power at the Centre as well as the State, the Shiv Sena has been acting like an opposition party for the last five years. Even in the present case, the party is sticking to the same strategy.Both the farm loan waiver and the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana are flagship schemes of the Maharashtra government and the central government.Before the Lok Sabha elections, the party had taken up the issue of farmers who had not benefitted from the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the Maharashtra government. The issue became a poll plank. Later, the Sena claimed it joined hands with the BJP only after the party accepted its demands in the interest of the farmers. Even this time, it is likely that the Sena will use the plank of farmers’ issues.After an hour-long meeting with P Sainath last week, Sena issued a statement that the discussion was around crop insurance, rehabilitation of drought-affected villages and freeing farmers from the debt burden.Speaking exclusively to CNN News18, P Sainath said, “We discussed several issues related to the agrarian distress. One of my suggestions was a policy for the prioritisation of the use of water. Providing drinking water should be given priority. Even in agriculture, water for food crops should be given priority over other crops. Industries should be given lower priority. Even in industries, liquor industry should be given the lowest priority. Golf courses should be given the lowest priority. An important suggestion was to seek a special parliamentary session on agrarian crisis.” “He (Uddhav Thackeray) also wanted to understand why I called crop insurance scheme the greatest scam, one even greater than the Rafale deal. I have said that the crop insurance scheme be handed over to public sector companies only. So private sector companies don’t enter only to make profits, and they don’t exit during difficult years. He has urged me to speak to his party workers about the farmers’ issue,” he added.