Maharashtra farmer leaders have rejected the Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver announced by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis last week, terming it “incomplete”. The steering committee consisting of 21 farmer leaders who have been negotiating with the government will meet in Nashik on July 9, after which a decision will be taken on commencing a sangharsha (struggle) yatra in the state again. At a recent meeting in Mumbai where farmer leaders of the steering committee including Ajit Navale, Raghunathdada Patil of the Shetkari Sanghatana, Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and MLA Bacchu Kadu, among others, the farmer organisations have opposed the cut-off date of June 30, 2016, for the relief. They have also stressed implementing recommendation of the Swaminathan commission that has suggested 50% minimum support price (MSP) for crops over and above input cost.
The cut-off date for waiving loans means farmers who have taken loans after June 30 will not be eligible. The committee has decided to hold a march from July 9 to July 23, from Nashik to Pune, to create awareness against the injustice to farmers. Patil rejected the government’s waiver decision as it will cover only 89 lakh farmers. “We have been demanding a blanket waiver for the farmers from the beginning and also want the cut-off date to be extended till this year but the government decided not to accept our demands. They have not kept the assurance of a blanket loan waiver,” Patil said.
He added that the government was silent on implementing the recommendations of the Swaminathan panel report. The reaction of political parties in the state was cautious. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said his party would cooperate with the Fadnavis government for now though it was not completely satisfied with the waiver decision. BJP ally Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was more vocal about his unhappiness with the government’s waiver, saying he sided with the farmers.