Group of ministers start talks on farm loan waiver criteria

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Amid reports speculating mid-term polls in Maharashtra against the backdrop of farmers' stir for a complete loan waiver and Sena's threat to withdraw support, Fadnavis yesterday said the state BJP unit is prepared for early polls.

BJP President Amit Shah said transparency was the biggest achievement of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, while at a press conference in Mumbai. "If they compel us for mid-tem polls, I am confident we will form the government again", Fadnavis told media persons. "We want their loans to be written off completely", he said.

Reacting sharply to this, Thackeray said "if they (BJP) have so much money, they should give it to the farmers and clear their debts".

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Mr Thackeray, who was in London vacationing with his family, through an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana, claimed that the BJP-led government gave relief to farmers only after Sena put pressure on it. Mr Patil said, "I will meet Mr Thackeray and discuss the decision".

Shah, along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, visited Thackeray's residence "Matoshree" and held a close-door meeting, which started at around 10 am and lasted for almost 75 minutes.

The Shiv Sena, which shares power with the BJP both in the centre and the state, has been sulking over various issues and keeps sniping at the saffron partner.

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Shah is scheduled to meet Uddhav Thackeray at the latter's residence "Matoshree" in suburban Bandra on Sunday. However, if it is not acceptable to BJP, then in that case Dr MS Swaminathan's name be announced as NDA nominee, " said Shiv Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut.

Hitting back at Fadnavis, Thackeray today said the talk of mid-term poll indicates that BJP has a lot of money lying with them.

The party had been rooting for Mohan Bhagwat - the chief of BJP's ideological mentor Rashtraiya Swayamsevak Sangh - for the President's post.

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