The traffic in many places was disrupted in Maharashtra on Saturday as the BJP resorted to statewide "rasta roko" agitation, demanding better remunerative price for raw cotton.
The traffic was severely affected on Varanasi-Kanyakumari - the north-south national highway (NH-7) and Kolkata-Mumbai-Delhi highway - NH-6. The party activists blocked roads near Butibori, Deori, Pandharkawda, Tiwsa, Amravati and many other places.
The BJP is demanding increase in the minimum support price to Rs 6,000 per quintal for cotton, to Rs 3,000 for soyabean and Rs 2,500 for paddy.
According to reports, prominent BJP leaders like Gopinath Munde, state president Sudhir Mugantiwar, leader of opposition in state council Pandurang Phundkar, Lok Sama member Sanjay Dhotre and legislators along with thousands of farmers took to the streets and courted arrest to press their demands.
The `cotton fire' is also being fueled by the Shiv Sena which is staring its own agitation and 'dind' (march) from November 21. Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray will be in the city on Sunday to announce the final plans.
The Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari met Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday in Mumbai and appraised the on-going conditions of the distressed cotton growers in Vidarbha. "He (Uddhav) assured that the Sena would launch a massive agitation in support of farmers soon," informs Tiwari.
Meanwhile, independent MLA from Badnera Ravi Rana, who is fasting on the issue since Monday in Amravati central jail, was shifted to the government run medical college and hospital in Nagpur on Saturday evening in a precarious condition. Earlier, Rana was forcibly admitted to district hospital of Amravati on Thursday evening after his health deteriorated.
The state BJP president, Sudhir Mungantiwar said, "The Congress-NCP government in the state is insensitive to the farmers' plight. The farmers' suicide is again on the rise. The opposition parties are moved by this concern, hence, are demanding rise in support prices for cotton, soya and paddy to ease economic distress of farmers." "But to add insult to injury the government is saying that the farmers' agitation is being taken up with an eye on next month's municipal council elections. Calling this an election stunt is not only ridiculous but also crass."
Mungantiwar on Saturday participated in road blockade at Butibori near Nagpur on NH-6. He said the agitation would intensify in coming days if the crop prices are not hiked.
"We will also not allow movement of ministers in Nagpur if the government continues to neglect farmers while farvouring rich industrialists and contractors, said the BJP leader. The state should chip in to pay farmers a sum over and above the MSP so as to rescue farmers from distress that is driving them to suicide," he further said.
Meanwhile, nine more farmers committed suicide in last 72 hours taking the toll to 680 since January this year. The figure reached to 29 this month while it was 52 last month.