BJP MP resigns from party, says leaders are not solving farmer issues

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Announcing his decision in the national capital, Nana Patole said he would join Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ahmedabad on December 11.

At a time when leaders of other parties are flocking to the BJP, Nana Patole, the MP from Bhandara-Gondia in Vidarbha who defeated NCP heavyweight Praful Patel in 2014, has decided to go the other way.

Three months after openly criticising the central and state governments for “not being sensitive to farmers”, Patole resigned from the BJP in Delhi Friday. The resignation came two days after Patole, a former Congress leader, joined BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha in his agitation for farmers’ rights in Akola, leaving the party and its government in Maharashtra red-faced.

“I waited long enough for the party leadership to resolve farmers’ problems but to no avail. So I decided to quit… I have sent my resignation letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker,” said Patole.

Announcing his decision in the national capital, Patole said he would join Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ahmedabad on December 11. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “As of now, I am not joining any party although (Maharashtra Congress chief) Ashok Chavan has given me an offer to join the Congress. It is not necessary that I rejoin any other party. I may even start my own.”

Patole said his anger was directed at the state and central governments. “None of the top leaders invited me to discuss my grievances. If they could let a senior party leader like Yashwant Sinha, who is 85 years old, sit on dharna for three days, who am I?”

Congress leaders confirmed that Patole, who had quit the party to join the BJP before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, had met them.

“Nana Patole has been raising questions on the issues of farmers, Dalits, backwards and tribals, which Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, especially Maharashtra Congress, have been raising. Today, he resigned from the BJP on these very issues. So I went to congratulate him,” said Mohan Prakash, AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra.

Patole has been making his displeasure known at the state government’s policies over the last few months, referring particularly to the online application procedure for the loan-waiver scheme which, he said, was causing hardship to farmers.

“I have raised these issues in the Lok Sabha and flagged them whenever I met the Prime Minister and the state’s Chief Minister. When I highlighted them at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence, his response was not something expected in a democracy,” he said.

Patole joined the BJP after contesting as an Independent in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections — he lost to Praful Patel. In 2014, he defeated Patel by about 1.49 lakh votes.

Last month, Patole had given an indication of his plans when he said in Nagpur that he was being approached by many parties but had not decided to quit yet.

Sources indicated that Patole could return to the Congress officially — he had recently met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Congress’s Ashok Chavan.

Explaining his resignation, Patole listed issues related to agriculture, economy and unemployment as reasons. “The rate of unemployment has really gone up whereas Modiji had promised two crore jobs. But this government is not taking a single step to create new job opportunities,” he said.

Demonetisation has led to millions losing their jobs and the GST implementation has led to the closing down of “almost all small scale industries”, he said.

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