The big protest by the farmers in Maharashtra have been called off after Maharashtra government accepted their various demands holding detailed discussion with the representatives of All India Kissan Sabha. The farmers had planned to surround the Assembly complex to press for their demands of an unconditional loan waiver, and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years.
This morning, Mumbai’s historic Azad Maidan turned into a sea of red this morning as thousands of farmers, on a peaceful protest demanding government assistance to battle agrarian distress, converged here after walking around 180 kms under blazing sun over the last six days.
Earlier in the day, Speaking in the state assembly, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government was “sensitive and positive” towards the demands of farmers and tribals.
“Around 90 to 95 per cent of the participants are poor tribals. They are fighting for forest land rights. They are landless and can’t do farming. The government is sensitive and positive towards their demands,” he said.
Fadnavis was responding to a discussion in the Assembly, initiated by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who lauded the farmers participating in the ‘Kisan Long March’ for their peaceful protest.
“A ministerial committee has been formed to discuss the demands with protesters. We will take a decision to resolve their issues in a time-bound manner,” the CM added.
The opposition Congress, NCP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and also Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led ruling alliance in the state, have extended support to the farmers’ demands. While, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray met the farmers yesterday.
In November last year, the state government announced a farm loan waiver, terming it the “biggest loan waiver in Maharashtra’s history”.
Last month, state Governor Vidyasagar Rao told the state legislature that the government has transferred over Rs 12,000 crore into bank accounts of 31 lakh farmers.
Farmers also want the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report, which says farmers should be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price should be fixed keeping this in mind.
While there is no likelihood of all farmers being allowed to proceed to the Assembly complex from Azad Maidan, a delegation of farmer leaders will be allowed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, as per the reports.
(With inputs from PTI)