Mumbai, June 10: A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set up a six-member Special Group of Ministers group to tackle farmers’ demands, the state government invited striking farmers’ leaders for talks on Sunday.
While accepting the invitation, the farmers leaders made it amply clear that “all the demands remain unchanged as well as plans to intensify the agitation from Monday onwards”.
Simultaneously, ruling ally Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party must immediately resolve the farmers issue or allow the Sena to do it.
Addressing the media here this evening, leaders of the Steering Committee of the farmers organisations said they were firm on a complete farm loans waiver, implementation of M.S. Swaminathan Committee report, proper minimum support prices for agricultural produce and fresh loans to agriculturists for the current sowing season.
“We will go for talks tomorrow. We will hear them out and take any decision after the government’s stand. But as announced earlier, our agitation continues, the Monday plan for dharna outside Collectors’ and Revenue Department offices and state-wide rail-road blockade on Tuesday stand,” said Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti.
Incidentally the outfit is part of the ruling coalition in the state.
The Kisan Kranti’s Steering Committee held a marathon meeting on the eve of the talks with the government, with some members boycotting the meeting alleging “political motives”.
Agro-economist Giridhar Patil, Shetkari Sanghatana leader Anil Ghanvat, and farmers leaders Budhajirao Mulik and Ramchandra Patil were among those who stayed away, besides Bachhu Kadu who was absent due to some prior commitments.
However, Peasants & Workers Party chief Jayant Patil and Shetti said a majority of the leaders were present and scotched speculation of a rift and “a vertical split” in the Kisan Kranti.
All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Ashok Dhawale said the historic farmers’ convention in Nashik on June 8 compelled the government to negotiating table, “but it remains to be seen which demands it is actually willing to concede”.
The ministerial panel comprises BJP ministers Chandrakant Patil, Pandurang Fundkar, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Subhash Deshmukh, Girish Mahajan and Shiv Sena’s Diwakar Raote.
The farmers’ strike completed 10 days on Saturday with an ultimatum to the state government to concede their demands, failing which the agitation will be further intensified from Monday.
Apart from ruling Shiv Sena and the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, the agitation has secured support of the opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Aam Aadmi Party, all Leftist parties and 35 trade unions, NGOs and 35 farmers groups across the state.
Fadnavis, who earlier this week announced that the “biggest’ loan waiver in state history was coming by October 31, had on Friday set up the ministerial group to resolve the famers issues.