ALERT! Farmer Groups to Contest Elections

A coalition of 15 farmers’ outfits, headed by farmers’ leader Raghunath Dada Patil of the Shetkari Sanghatana, announced their intent to contest all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra collectively under the ‘Kisan Jawan Mazdoor’ front. 

The coalition comprised of a patchwork of the smaller farmers’ outfits in the State including the Shetkari Sanghatana,the Baliraja Shetkari Sangh and the Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha. It is being presented an alternative to the “anti-farmer policies” of the present BJP and the erstwhile Congress- NCP governments in Maharashtra. 

Its objective is exclusively on farmers’ problems, from farmer suicides to securing a better price for agricultural produce, said its leaders. 

The leaders of the coalition have also said that they were planning to ally with other like-minded parties which were not allied to the four major political powers in the State i.e. the BJP, the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena. 

Kishore Dhamale of the Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha said, “We are in talks with other outfits and fronts like the ‘Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’ of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh chief Prakash Ambedkar and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi, the Samajwadi Party and other Left parties. We are open to alliances and in the event of pre-poll pacts failing, our front will contest all Lok Sabha seats in the State”.  

The strongest force within this collective farmers’ coalition is Mr. Patil’s Shetkari Sanghatana. Mr. Patil is a respected leader from Kolhapur district and an opponent of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti. 

The farmers’ coalition is expected to split votes in the State’s sugar heartland while setting the stage for a three-cornered battle between Mr. Shetti, being backed by Sharad Pawar’s NCP, Mr. Patil’s outfit and the newly-floated ‘Rayat Kranti Sanghatana’ of Maharashtra Minister Sadabhau Khot. 

By supplanting Mr. Shetti, a two-time Member of Parliament from Hatkanangale, a challenge is posed for the rival farmer outfits. 

As in the 2014 general elections, Mr. Shetti had polled over 50% of the votes in the Hatkanangale LS seat. 

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