After Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, BJP-ruled Rajasthan to be rocked by farm protests | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

After Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, BJP-ruled Rajasthan to be rocked by farm protests

Hindustan Times, Jaipur | By
Jul 07, 2017 12:08 AM IST

Farm protests demanding better crop prices in 3 BJP-ruled states is a challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hundreds of farmers have decided to sit on an indefinite strike in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district from next week, the third BJP-ruled state after Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to be rocked by crop protests after a drought year.

Farmers under the banner of ‘Kisan Sangharsh Samiti’ have given a week-long ultimatum to the state government to meet their demands of better crop prices, agricultural pensions and loan waivers.

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They are also upset over cheque payments since the government withdrew high-value banknotes during the demonetization exercise last year, and warn that the protests will spread across the state if not attended to.

Local farm leaders under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) say the protests are a spillover of similar demonstrations in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh where anger is mounting following the death of five farmers in police firing on Tuesday.

“Pratapgarh borders Madhya Pradesh and the mandi is located 20 km from Mandsaur, so the agitation in MP has spilled over to Pratapgarh. Many local farmers have relatives in Mandsaur,” an official of Pratapgarh Krishi Upaj Mandi, who did not wish to be named, told HT.

The snowballing farm protests are a challenge for the BJP and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has made the sector a focus and promised to double agricultural incomes by 2022. Angry farmers from food-bowl states say they cannot afford to sell produce at below-par prices and want the administration to create a safety net.

The farmers say any protest will crimp supplies of milk and vegetables, a claim the administration dismisses. The farmers – including dairy producing ones -- have demanded hiking milk prices, minimum support prices (MSP) of vegetables by 50%, electricity connections and loan waiver and cash payment for their produce.

Former MLA and All India Kisan Sabha state president Pemaram has said farmers in Rajasthan will also launch a statewide agitation if the government fails to meet their demands. “Problem of farmers in Rajasthan are same as that of farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. We also want higher prices for milk, hike in MSP and loan waiver. Farmers will submit memorandum to district collectors today (on Wednesday) and the state government should take our ultimatum seriously,” Pemaram told HT.

A group of farmers had also spilled milk in large quantities and dumped vegetables on the streets. A hunger strike was called off after assurances from the district magistrate but the farmers submitted a memorandum to the government and said the strike and protests would continue.

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    Manoj Ahuja is a principal correspondent based in Indore. He writes on business, agriculture and aviation. His focus is on south-western Madhya Pradesh, particularly the tribal belt.

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