NCP-Cong alliance to continue: Pawar

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Thane, Feb 16 (UNI) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar today reiterated that the alliance between his party and the Congress was here to stay and it would continue in the forthcoming general elections.

Talking to reporters here today after attending the silver jubilee celebrations of Thane District Central Co-operative Bank, Mr Pawar said in the light of the realignment of constituencies, the Congress and the NCP will work out the modalities for contesting elections.

Replying to a question on what he had to say about the ongoing agitation by Shiv Sena against farmer suicides in the state, Mr Pawar said the political parties have a right to carry out agitation and it will only be seen during the elections as to whom the farmers will rely on, and who will help the farmers.

The control of the State Government on the co-operative sector will be reduced, and I will take up the issue with NABARD, he said, adding that if the members of the co-operative institutions including the banks are empowered, the institutions will become strong.

''The members of such institutions can run the show properly and I have confidence in them,'' he said.

Speaking on the recent violence in the state, Mr Pawar said that it was unwarranted as any citizen of the country can live anywhere in the country, but the media blew the entire incident out of proportion.

Mr Pawar, who is also the Union Agriculture Minister, said that the farm sector was facing a grim situation and the need of the hour was to reduce the burden on the sector as the availability of the land for farming was decreasing day by day.

''The availability of land is on decline while the population in the country is increasing, and there needs to be a balance between the two. The dependency on farming which is more than thirty per cent should be brought to single digit like other countries,'' he said.

He added that he does not mean that one should give up farming but he wanted the dependency on farming to be reduced and there should be diversification.

Mr Pawar pointed out that as a result of the RBI disallowing more than 100 district co-operative banks and five state banks from distributing farm loans, the farmers were running towards the money lenders and this resulted in the defaulters growth leading to all kinds of unforeseen situations including suicide by farmers.

This situation needs to be changed, he said, adding that he would take up this issue at various levels.

Mr Pawar said the norms of lending loans in the urban region need to be revisited and the co-operative banks should be in a position to lend money for housing and other urban related activities.

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