After BJP’s poor performance in cotton belt of Gujarat in the recent Assembly elections, the Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has decided not to allow a repeat of it in the state. To nip the anger of the cotton growing farmers in the bud, it is planning to dole out compensation and relief to the farmers before the state and Lok Sabha elections.Large parts of Maharashtra — Vidharba, North Maharashtra and Marathwada — are major cotton growing belts in Maharashtra. In 2014, the BJP got as many as 56 seats out of its total 120 seats in this region. This year, due to the bollworm insecticide, majority of the farmers’ cotton crops got damaged and they suffered huge losses.The BJP is expecting that its announcement of Rs 37,000 per hectare compensation for non-irrigated cotton farms and Rs 38,500 for farmers whose crops were damaged by bollworms will help it stave off any setback in elections.“Besides, the farmers are not getting fair price for their produce. Currently, cotton has been sold at Rs 4,500-Rs 5,000 per quintal against Rs 6,000-7,000 during Congress regime. There is a huge anger among farmers and that will reflect in the coming elections against the BJP government,” said Nawab Malik, spokesperson of NCP.Malik said in Gujarat elections also, the BJP, out of 127 rural — cotton and peanut growing belt — seats, got only 56, while the Congress outperformed with 71 seats. The Congress’ total tally is 80 in the 182-member Gujarat assembly.“We expect same in Maharashtra in rural belt. Despite being PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s home state, farmers decisively voted against BJP in Gujarat. Chief Minister Fadnavis had promised the farm loan waiver. What happened? Hardly any one benefitted,” said Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Congress chief.“The Congress and the NCP are trying to fan out the uneasiness in the sector. They even called a Halla Bol protest there recently. However, we are confident of applying balm on the anger,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.GUJARAT LESSONSThe BJP mainly lost in the rural belt in the recent Gujarat Assembly polls. Of the Congress’ total tally of 80 in Gujarat, 71 seats are from rural sectors. BJP wants to avoid any repeat of this in Maharashtra’s rural belt.
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