Farmers, bullet train, among Maharashtra's poll issues

Farmers of AIKS march from Nashik to Mumbai. PTI file photo.

The severe drought, agrarian distress, the impact of demonetisation and GST plus demand for reservation from various quarters are some of the key issues that would dominate the poll scene of Maharashtra.

Given the fact that nearly 50 per cent of the geographical area of the state - that has 48 Lok Sabha seats - is under drought and water crisis looms large, addressing the resentment in the hinterland is going to be a major issue for the BJP-led governments at Centre and Maharashtra.

The Narendra Modi-government and the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government led by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had so far extended a relief of nearly Rs 10,000 crore.

The opposition Congress-NCP front had alleged that the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan, the flagship scheme of the CM to make the state drought-free did not yield any results.

In the last four years, more than 10,000 farmers have committed suicides.

FIVE KEY ISSUES

Severe drought in the state

Farmers' suicide 

Demonetisation & GST

Unemployment

Reservation 

"The current drought, agrarian distress, water shortage, crop failure and mismanagement in handling rural economy combined becomes the no. 1 poll issue in the state," said farmers' leader Kishor Tiwari, the chairperson of Maharashtra government-appointed Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.

On one ground that the state succeeded is giving 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in jobs and education. The Marathas account for nearly 33 per cent of the total 11.25 crore population of Maharashtra. Thus Maharashtra now has a 68 per cent quota - next only to Tamil Nadu that has 69 per cent - above the 50 per cent mandated by the Supreme Court. 

"We have to look into the issue in greater detail. The Marathas dominate the politics of Maharashtra. They are also a farming community," said veteran political analyst Prakash Akolkar.

Now there is demand from the Muslims to provide reservation in jobs. Besides, Dhangars, the shepherd community are demanding reservation.

The opposition parties Congress and NCP, that leads a coalition of 56 parties, has been hammering at the government on the issue of price rise and inflation, demonetisation and GST. "This is really troubling the common man," said Subrata Roy, a resident of Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

The government is a jumla-sarkar, full of false promises, say Congress-NCP leaders.

The Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi founded by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, has been saying that he fears that if Modi comes again as PM, he would change the Constitution. 

The opposition to bullet train - the pet project of Modi - is another issue. The project passes through twin districts of Thane and Palghar before reaching Mumbai - and villagers are against the acquisition of land.

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