first_imgFollowing his ouster from the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha, Maharashtra Minister Sadabhau Khot on Thursday formally launched his own party, Rayat Kranti Sanghatana, in Kolhapur district. “The objective is not to trample on the rights of the toilers of the earth but to fight for their uplift,” Mr. Khot said. He claimed the word rayat was chosen to resonate with the humble tiller of agricultural land.After months of acrimony, Mr. Khot was formally expelled from the Swabhimani Paksha in August this year for allegedly tarnishing the party’s image. While he was expected to formally join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Khot decided instead to float his own outfit. The same month, Mr. Shetti, an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, withdrew his support.Speaking at Kolhapur’s Shahu Sanskrutik Bhavan, Mr. Khot, who is the Minister for Agriculture and Marketing in the Devendra Fadnavis-led Cabinet, took potshots at his friend-turned-foe, Mr. Shetti.Mr. Khot said, “I am a worker in my party, not a leader who imposes his views… I will till the land, sow the seed, but the cultivated land will belong to the rayat [people].”He said, “Some people could not bear to see me as a Cabinet Minister. Hence, I was forced to exit the party [Swabhimani Paksha], but I do not want to mention names. Henceforth, my work will speak for myself.”In June, their relations hit rock bottom after Mr. Khot returned a sum of money that Mr. Shetti had once lent to help his family. Mr. Khot’s supporters alleged that Mr. Shetti had failed to give to give their leader ‘moral support’. “In my party, the well-being of the farmer is paramount. In six months, we hope to swell our ranks with 5,000 supporters from all the State’s 353 talukas,” Mr. Khot said. Mr. Khot’s decision to float his party marks yet another splinter in the farmers’ movement in recent times. The first major break occurred when Mr. Shetti broke off from the Shetkari Sanghatna, which was founded by the late agrarian activist, Sharad Joshi, who had mentored him. Mr. Shetti then founded the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna whose political wing, the Swabhimani Paksha, was formed in 2004.last_img