Maha guv faces flak for 'skipping' appointment with farm team

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Mumbai, Jan 25 (PTI) Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari gave an appointment to a farmers delegation that was to submit him a memorandum against the new agri-marketing laws but did not keep promise and headed to Goa, peasants' bodies alleged on Monday even as the Raj Bhavan denied the claim.

NCP president Sharad Pawar, speaking at a rally in the Azad Maidan held in support of farmers agitating outside Delhi, also lashed out at the Governor, saying Koshyari had time to meet Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut after the BMC last year demolished parts of her office here but has no time for farmers.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) president Ashok Dhawale accused Koshyari of running away to Goa to have fun and charged the latter with 'insulting' the farmers and workers of Maharashtra.

Koshyari, who is also the Governor of Goa, left for the adjoining tourist state to address its assembly whose five -day session began on Monday.

A Raj Bhavan spokesperson in Mumbai said Koshyari is in Goa as per schedule, which was fixed much before the farmers protest in the metropolis.

The Raj Bhavan clarified that representatives of the Samyukta Shetkari Morcha were informed in advance that the Governor would not be able to meet the delegation on Monday as he would be in Goa to address its Assembly.

It was already cleared (to Morcha representatives) that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has additional charge of Goa Governors post and he would address the session of the Goa Assembly on January 25 and hence, will not be able to meet the farmers delegation, the Raj Bhavan said in a statement.

The Raj Bhavan said the Morchas representative, Dhananjay Shinde, was on January 22 informed over the phone about Koshyaris unavailability.

Dhawale, who was accompanied by Mumbai Congress president Bhai Jagtap and other AIKS leaders, said the farmers representatives decided not to submit the memorandum to the Governor or his secretary and instead tore its copies to condemn Koshyaris action.

Instead, the memorandum against the Centre's new farm laws will be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind, Dhawale said.

Similarly, Morchas invitee Prakash Reddy was informed about the Governors unavailability in writing on Sunday, the Raj Bhavan statement said.

Shri Shinde had acknowledged to have received the message via WhatsApp. Besides, Shri Prakash Reddy received the letter in this regard on January 24.

'Hence, the news about the Governor not meeting the delegation despite giving appointment is wrong, it said.

The statement said Shinde was also informed in advance that the Governors principal secretary, Santosh Kumar, would accept the memorandum at 5 pm on Monday.

Earlier, Pawar, among others, attended the rally held at the Azad Maidan in south Mumbai to express solidarity with the farmers agitating near Delhi for two months against the new agri-marketing laws enacted by the Centre in September last year.

The rally was also attended by Maharashtra Congress chief and state minister Balasaheb Thorat, AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah and other Left leaders.

Immediately after the rally, the farmers were to take out a march to the Raj Bhavan to submit the memorandum to the Governor.

The agitators, however, were stopped by the police mid-way.

(NCP chief Sharad) Pawar saheb told one thing in his speech (during the rally), which many people did not know.

Governor Saheb had given us an appointment at 4 pm. He himself had given the time.

But the Governor saheb did not keep the time he himself had given and ran away to Goa. The action of the Governor means insult of the people, workers and farmers of Maharashtra, Dhawale alleged.

Dhawale said Koshyaris action was not surprising as the latter had been a BJP leader and RSS campaigner.

Dhawale further said the farmers bodies will launch a campaign in every nook and cranny of Maharashtra against the farm laws.

We have (also) requested the MVA government to properly implement the loan waiver scheme of the state government for farmers, he added.

Dhawale said the farmers who took part in the rally will stay put at the Azad Maidan during the Monday night.

They will celebrate the Republic Day on Tuesday as was declared earlier, he said. PTI ENM VT RSY RSY