Nana Patole Criticizes Maharashtra State Government over Maratha vs. OBC Controversy and Water Tariff Hike

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Pune, 22nd June 2024: Congress state president Nana Patole has accused the state government of instigating a communal divide between Maratha and OBC communities. Patole described the government as “communalist” and expressed his dismay over the recent distribution of anti-Dalit leaflets at the Kalaram temple. He emphasized that Maharashtra belongs to the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Shahu, Phule, and Ambedkar, and criticized the government for allegedly trying to create a caste-based divide.

Patole has also called for a caste-wise census, stating that it would address many of the state’s issues. He acknowledged the need for the Mahavikas Aghadi leaders to make statements that appease their party members and remarked on the dynamics within the coalition. “If Pawarsaheb took one step back, we took three steps back,” Patole said, referring to the seat allocation discussions among the three parties. He emphasized that Congress does not claim superiority within the coalition, highlighting their stance as a political party committed to discussion and cooperation.

In addressing recent electoral defeats, Patole mentioned that Congress plans to conduct a booth-wise review of the Pune Lok Sabha elections to understand the reasons behind their loss.

Opposition to Increased Water Tariff
Patole voiced strong opposition to the recent hike in water tariffs by the water resources department. The rates for horticulturists have increased by 10 percent, and for dry land farmers by 7 percent, with drinking water tariffs also expected to rise. Patole condemned these increases and promised to raise the issue during the upcoming assembly session.

Farmers Protest Water Quota Increase
The government’s decision to increase the water quota for agriculture by 20 percent has sparked anger among farmers. They argue that agriculture has become unaffordable due to rising costs of labor, seeds, and fertilizers, and that there is no adequate market price for their produce to offset these expenses. Farmers fear that the additional water tariff will further exacerbate their financial burden.

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Patole warned that this decision could backfire on the government, suggesting that the increased water tariff might face significant opposition in the Legislative Assembly. He called on the government to either reduce the increase or withdraw it completely to alleviate the farmers’ plight.