The independent legislator from Badnera in Amravati district, Ravi Rana, who was on an indefinite hunger strike, ended his week-long fast on Sunday after being assured by the state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan that pricing issues raised by the cotton and soya farmers would be resolved in an all-party meeting on November 23.
Rana, who started agitation under Yuwa Swabhimani Sanghatana, had been on an indefinite hunger strike since Nov 14 demanding a price of 6,000-6,500 per quintal of cotton. He started the hunger strike in Amravati central jail after he was arrested for blocking Tiwsa road.
Despite all efforts by the jail and civic administration Rana did not call off his fast. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s emissary and the Maharashtra minister for industries Narayan Rane spoke to Rana over telephone.
However, the legislator refused to relent. As his condition started deteriorating, he was forcibly shifted to the district hospital in Amravati on Thursday night. Later he was shifted to the government run medical college and hospital in Nagpur on Saturday after his condition became critical with swelling in his kidneys, chest pain and a sharp fall of over 10 kgs in his body weight.
His wife, Navneet Kaur-Rana has also launched an indefinite strike at Bandera, along with Yuva Swabhimani Sanghatana in support of hiking the minimum guarantee price of raw cotton.
According to his wife, the Maharashtra agriculture minister, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, an emissary of the chief minister, flew to Nagpur on Sunday and met Rana at the hospital and handed over a letter of the chief minister. The letter assured that the issue would be discussed and resolved in the proposed all-party meeting to be held in Mumbai on November 23 in this regard.
“I have ended my fast after getting an assurance from the chief minister. If the government fails to provide a better price to the cotton growers on November 23, I will again launch an indefinite fast, along with my supporters on November 24,” warned Rana.
An ally of the ruling democratic front government, Rana’s indefinite hunger strike on the issue of cotton price embarrassed the Chavan government.
Shiv Sena issues ultimatum to Congress
The Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray on Sunday gave an ultimatum to the Congress-NCP alliance over the cotton price issue and asserted that if the state fails to increase the minimum support price of cotton within four days, the Sena would corner the government at every level.
After meeting with the independent MLA, Ravi Rana at the government run medical college and hospital, Thackeray said that the Sena would launch a massive agitation if the government fails to provide the better price to cotton cultivators soon.
The Sena leader, who was here to address a regional-level party meeting said, “I proposed for a meeting to decide price rise for cotton and rice cultivator, however, the state government turned down the demand.”
While targeting Congress youth leader Rahul Gandhi, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, he said, "Rahul Gandhi visited Kalawati, but he did not understand the plight of farmers. The Congress leaders are not sensible enough to understand farmers’ suicides."
He appealed to party workers to actively participate in the Cotton Dindi (march) that would be led by the senior Sena leader Diwakar Raote on November 21.