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A tale of two protests: What Raje could learn from Maharashtra CM

On February 22, Rajasthan police arrested 179 farmers from different locations and detained around 2,000 farmers who were marching to Jaipur to stage a sit-in outside the assembly that was in session.

jaipur Updated: Mar 13, 2018 21:04 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan news,Two Protests,Vasundhar raje
Chief minister Vasundhara Raje with MP and son Dushyant Singh at Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

Three weeks ago, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) leader Amra Ram had spent four days in jail after he attempted to lead a farmers’ protest march to the Rajasthan assembly.

On February 22, Rajasthan police arrested 179 farmers from different locations and detained around 2,000 farmers who were marching to Jaipur to stage a sit-in outside the assembly that was in session.

Amra Ram was also part of the farmers’ protest in Maharashtra – a ‘long march’ by about 30,000 poor agriculturists -- that was conducted peacefully and ended on Monday with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis accepting most of their demands.

“While Vasundhra Raje was insensitive in handling the protest and we had to spend four days in jail, the Maharashtra chief minister had the grace to meet us with his ministers and give us a written assurance,” Amra Ram said. “As a result, the protest in Maharashtra did not cause any inconvenience, while the highway was blocked in Sikar (near Jaipur) by farmers protesting police high-handedness.”

Agriculture experts said the BJP government in Rajasthan could have handled the protest more deftly.

“Raje needs to learn from Devendra Fadnavis. Why should the chief minister be ashamed of meeting her own people? It’s not just about Rajasthan chief minister, the problem is with the view that protesters are anarchists,” agriculture expert Devendra Sharma said.

“We must appreciate the remarkable sagacity of Maharashtra chief minister in dealing with the farmers’ protest. The incident also shows that people want to protest in a peaceful and dignified manner, and resort to aggression only when government tries to block them,” he added.

Defending the move, home minister Gulab Chand Kataria cited high court directives that allow rallies and protests in Jaipur only between noon and 4pm on working days, and said there was apprehension of a breach of peace.

State agriculture minister Prabhulal Saini said the government was sensitive to the farmers’ demands as was evident by the loan waiver and other announcements made by the chief minister in the assembly.

Farmers are, however, unhappy in most parts of Rajasthan mainly because of the government’s inability to purchase their produce at minimum support price.

“We understand that the loan waiver is a temporary solution. We want the government to implement its stated policy of purchasing crop at 50% above the cost price so that farmers don’t fall into debt trap,” Amra Ram said.

In Maharashtra, the move to arrange special trains for transporting the farmers back to Nashik was also appreciated. What was common to the two protests was the allegation that left parties were instigating the farmers to launch the protests.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 21:04 IST