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Will continue agitation for farmers in Maharashtra: BJP leader Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha, a former Union finance minister, is leading a protest by hundreds of cotton and soybean farmers who are demanding compensation after their crops were damaged by pests.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2017 18:24 IST
Pradip Maitra
Pradip Maitra
Nagpur, Hindustan Times
Yashwant Sinha,Maharashtra farmers,BJP
BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha was detained during farmers’ protest in Maharashtra’s Akola on Monday.(ANI/Twitter)

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday pledged to continue his fight against the Devendra Fadnavis-led government’s “apathy” towards farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, where at least three farmers commit suicide every day.

Sinha, a former Union finance minister, is leading a protest by hundreds of cotton and soybean farmers who are demanding compensation after their crops were damaged by pests.

The 80-year-old was detained by the police in Akola on Monday for leading a protest march over farmers’ issues such as waiving of farm loans and payment of the remunerative price to their produces.

The BJP leader said after his release from the police custody that unless their demands are accepted, the protest would continue and threatened to go on hunger strike.

“I wish to tell the police, district administration and the state government that if we are formally arrested and released and they think that we will go home, then they are under the wrong impression. You are seeing the mood of farmers now. We won’t be responsible for what happens,” he said.

On Monday, Akola Police detained Sinha along with 250 farmers under Section 68 of the Bombay Police Act after they vandalised the barricades of the district office on their way out, following what they said was an unsatisfactory discussion with the district magistrate over the farmers’ demands.

Sinha accused the BJP of reneging on promises made to farmers while addressing them at the Kapus Soyabean Dhan Parishad organised by Shetkari Jagar Manch in Akola on Sunday,

“Before coming to power, the BJP had promised to give 50% over and above the minimum support price (MSP). But after coming to power, the party forgot the promise,” Sinha said.

The Parishad has sought purchase of all farm produce by the government at an MSP of Rs 50,000 per acre for cotton farmers affected by the pink bollworm disease besides the resolution of issues related to farm insurance and relief to drought-affected villages.

Sinha, whose son Jayant Sinha is a minister in Narendra Modi’s government, has criticised the Prime Narendra and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley for their economic policies, which he says, has incited a slowdown that will not go away before the next general elections in 2019.

Sinha urged Modi in November to replace Arun Jaitley over issues with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying “no amount of tinkering with tax rates” will set things right. He wrote a newspaper column in September calling last year’s note ban an “unmitigated economic disaster” and the implementation of GST a “badly conceived and poorly implemented” havoc.

This was his second visit to Akola where he has spoken against the alleged anti-farmer and anti-people policies of the BJP government at the Centre as well as in the western state.

Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party has launched a “Halla Bol” march to Nagpur from Yavatmal, and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray spoke with the veteran BJP leader over the telephone.

BJP leader Nana Patole said that the senior party leaders such as Shatrughan Sinha, Arun Shourie and Varun Gandhi are likely to come to Akola to lend a support the agitation of Sinha.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 18:24 IST