Kisan Long March: Why are Maharashtra farmers protesting

The Shiv Sena today threw its weight behind the thousands of farmers who marched from Nashik to Mumbai to highlight their problems and said the party would back them regardless of their red flags. The protest rally, termed Kisan Long March, is one-of-its-kind as no protest in the recent past involving so many people has been carried out so peacefully garnering support from all corners, including citizens and a number of political parties.

Farmers' delegation, including Ajit Nawale, Jiva Pandu Gavit, Narsayya Adam and Ashok Dhawale, has reached Maharashtra Assembly to meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the committee formed by the state government to discuss their demands. The march is likely to disrupt traffic and clog roads leading up to South Mumbai on 12 March.

The march has been organised to protest the alleged failures of the BJP government on the farm front, including non-implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and the Forest Rights Act.

The state government has made a decision to appoint a six members committee to look into the farmers demands.Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a high-level meeting yesterday to review the situation. On Saturday, when the march reached Thane, residents came out and interacted with the farmers. It is for all these reasons that no state government in India can ignore the agrarian crisis and aim to pacify protesting farmers and win easy votes through loan waivers.

BJP is not just facing flak from the opposition but its estranged ally Shiv Sena has also extended its support to the protesting farmers.

- A "complete loan waiver" for state-wide farmers, instead of the regulated package announced by the Fadnavis government previous year. "The government is sensitive and positive towards their demands", the chief minister said.

"Our government is committed to address all the grievances of farmers, which have accumulated due to the apathetic approach of the last several years.We are very sensitive towards farmers and two ministers (tribal development minister Vishnu Savara and Mahajan) have already been asked to look into their demands", Mungantiwar told PTI.

They started the march on Friday.

The Government has also anticipated cooperation from the participants of the march for a smooth functioning of the traffic on March 12, as it is Monday and exams of the 12th and 10th board are also scheduled for the day.

It is being reported that the protesters will not be allowed to proceed beyond Azad Maidan and a delegation will be allowed to come to the Vidhan Bhavan to meet the Chief Minister.

Consequently, about 50,000 farmers are carrying out a march in Mumbai to sit in a gherao of the Maharashtra assembly. "We are prepared to work with the farmers shoulder to shoulder to achieve their demands", Aditya said.

  • Leroy Wright