Striking farmers in Maharashtra will meet the state government today amidst reports that they may further intensify their protest from Monday onwards. The Sunday meeting comes a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis set up a six-member Special Group of Ministers group to tackle the farmers’ demands. On Saturday, the state government invited the striking farmers’ leaders for the talks. According to IANS, while accepting the invitation, the farmers’ leaders made it clear that “all the demands remain unchanged as well as plans to intensify the agitation from Monday onwards”.
On Saturday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government must immediately resolve the farmers issue or allow the Sena, which is an ally in the government, to do it. Talking to reporters on Saturday, leaders of the Steering Committee of the farmers organisations said they were firm on a complete farm loans waiver, implementation of MS 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,” IANS quoted Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti. This outfit is also part of the ruling coalition in the state.
Earlier on Saturday, the Kisan Kranti’s Steering Committee held a marathon meeting a day before their meeting with the government. However, some members boycotted the steering committee 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, IANS reported.
The government’s six-member panel to hold talks with farmers include BJP ministers Chandrakant Patil, Pandurang Fundkar, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Subhash Deshmukh, Girish Mahajan and Shiv Sena’s Diwakar Raote.
The farmers in Maharashtra have been striking for the last 11 days. They have threatened to intensify the agitation from Monday onwards if their demands are not met. The farmers’ agitation has been supported by ruling Shiv Sena, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, 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.