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This sequence of events began on May 15, 1999. Before elections, a meeting of the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress party was held. During this meeting, the then INC President Smt. Sonia Gandhi asked the committee members if her foreign origin could affect the election campaign. Many leaders took a stand of persuading Soniaji. But Shri. P. A. Sangma and Shri. Sharad Pawar expressed their honest views and alarmed the Working Committee that Congress could face this issue during the elections. They also insisted on making strategies to respond to this criticism.
After that, the atmosphere in Delhi was heated against Pawar Saheb. Hon'ble Pawar Saheb and his colleagues then handed over a letter to the Congress party president, explaining their stand in this scenario. In that letter, It was stated that despite acknowledging the sacrifices of the Gandhi family and Soniaji's influence on the Congress party, the party will have to pay the price on the issue of her foreign origin. The leadership too will have to face this issue in the election.
After receiving this letter, the Congress executive committee held a meeting and they decided to suspend Shri. Sharad Pawar, Shri. P. A. Sangma and Shri. Tariq Anwar for six years.
As the Minister of Agriculture, Pawar Saheb ushered in the second green revolution in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Purvanchal by completing 100 lakh tonnes of paddy production in the country. During his tenure, India exported grains to 25 countries of the world with record production of rice and wheat. The food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines acknowledged and congratulated his work. These achievements established him as the pioneer of the second green revolution in the country.
While blowing the trumpet of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP led National Democratic Alliance had emphasized on its India Shining campaign. But at that time the country was shaken up by the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Moreover, the rural and agricultural classes were completely neglected in the NDA government. The Congress had decided to contest the elections jointly against the ruling NDA. One morning, Smt Sonia Gandhi walked from her residence at 10 Janpath and came directly to Pawar Saheb's residence at 6, Gurudwara, Rakabganj. She expressed her desire to contest elections together. Pawar Saheb agreed and those elections were fought by the Nationalist Congress Party in alliance with the Congress and it resulted in the defeat of the NDA. UPA came to power in the centre under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh. The important responsibility of the Agriculture department was placed on the shoulders of Pawar Saheb, and after that our country experienced unprecedented growth in the agriculture sector and food exports. The credit of reviving the Agricultural sector goes to Shri Sharad Pawar.
Inspired by his mentor, Late Yashwantrao Chavan, Pawar Saheb has continued his efforts to develop the agro-industrial society throughout his career
In order to implement the horticulture scheme on larger scale, with 100 per cent subsidy, Pawar Saheb launched the National horticulture Mission and carried out a wider horticulture program across the country. Funding was given for production of vegetables, flowers, fruits, greenhouses, farms, micro-irrigation schemes, construction of tools, nursery, air-conditioned warehouses, refrigerated vans etc. As a result, fruit production increased significantly and India became the number one producer of fruits and vegetables in the world.
When Pawar Saheb became the Union Agriculture minister, Capital investment in agriculture was at a decline. As a result, the growth rate was stagnant and new jobs were not being created. This was affecting the overall growth rate of the country.
Pawar Saheb launched the National Agriculture Development (RKY) Scheme to tackle these issues. Thousands of crores were given to the states for capital investment in agriculture from the central government. With this financial aid, the states implemented various agricultural programs like irrigation, micro-irrigation, land improvement, farm ponds etc.
Pawar Saheb was instrumental in giving a Rs 71,000 crore loan waiver to approximately 4 crore 30 lakh farmers who were in arrears due to drought, unpredictability of rains and pest infestation. The 7/12 extract of the farmers was completely emptied, so that they can become eligible for a new loan and can get into the mainstream of production. Co-operative banks also recovered due to debt recovery and were able to provide new loans. At that time, Maharashtra received Rs 7,800 crore from Central government for this debt waiver. All these were the efforts of Pawar Saheb, his conviction made all this possible.
Bamboo is used for many things from paper making to building materials. In order to increase the production of bamboo and to create new varieties in a tissue culture manner, Pawar Saheb established the Bamboo Mission and through it increased the production of bamboo.
Pawar Saheb’s prime objective was to prevent farmers’ suicides. To cater this issue, the Prime Minister package was announced and Rs 3,000 crores were distributed in the districts of Vidarbha, Maharashtra where the rate of farmer suicides was high. Agro-supplementary programs were also undertaken to increase the income of the farmers like completion of irrigation projects, digging of farms, re-acquisition of wells, animal husbandry etc. Pawar Saheb always had compassion for his farmer brothers.
During his tenure, Shri Pawar Saheb noticed that certain crop diseases were eating and destroying the standing crop. There was a disease called Karpa on bananas in Khandesh and a disease called Lalya on cotton at that time. Immediately, a research program was undertaken with the help of Central government to help the farmers out of this crisis.
Shri Sharad Pawar provided immediate financial assistance to the farmers who were affected by the sudden onset of natural calamities like drought, hailstorm and heavy rains. Vidarbha Farmers affected by heavy rains were provided with the aid of 950 crores. He provided Rs 35,000 per hectare for the rehabilitation of drought-damaged orchards. During the drought, he also sent fodder and animal feed from co-operative societies in Gujarat.