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Absence Of Guardian Ministers In Chief Minister’s Drought-Relief Meet Face Opposition Ire

 The absence of state agriculture minister Dhananjay Munde, along with five other guardian ministers in a meeting called by the Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, to review the prevailing drought-like-situation in Marathwada region of Maharashtra, has attracted criticism from the Opposition parties. Only two of the eight guardian ministers from the worst-affected Marathwada region, were present at the meeting to discuss drought relief at a time when the state is reeling under a severe water crisis with 2973 villagers and 7671 hamlets dependent on 3692 tankers for their water supply. When Sharad Pawar termed the absence of agriculture minister as reflection of a “lack of seriousness” on the part of the government, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis retorted back that the Opposition was being “too negative” and politicising the drought-scenario prevailing in state. NCP (Sharad faction) party president Jayant Patil accused the government of still being in election mode while senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat pointed out that relief work was affected as guardian ministers were holidaying abroad. With the voting process having wrapped up in the state on May 20, state political leaders have finally started paying attention to the water crisis looming large in the state. Incidentally, though the heat wave and water crises was very much prevalent in Maharashtra during the election process, none of the political parties chose to raise this issue in the election process. Instead the polls in Maharashtra were fought on issues like party rebellion and betrayal. Sharad Pawar has demanded a relief for farmers starting with fodder camps for cattle, restructuring crop loans, freeze on loan recovery processes, relief in exam fee and electricity as drought-relief measures.