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Devendra Fadnavis sees ‘political hand’ behind farmers’ strike in Maharashtra

Mumbai city news: Fadnavis said he had information that political workers and not farmers were involved in the recent violent incidents

mumbai Updated: Jun 07, 2017 11:07 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis,farmers strike
Vegetables arrive at APMC Turbhe in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday.(Bachchan Kumar )

As the farmers’ strike continued on the sixth day, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday alleged there were political motives behind the protests.

Fadnavis said he had information that political workers and not farmers were involved in the recent violent incidents such as shutting the agricultural markets and blocking supply of essential commodities to cities across Maharashtra.

As the farmers’ outfits are planning to intensify their agitation, the state government issued prohibitory orders in Pune, Nashik and Kolhapur districts — where protests are most intense — to ban the assembly of five or more people.

Mumbai, however, remains unaffected.

Farmers’ outfits in Maharashtra have been protesting since June 1, demanding a farm loan waiver and protection from falling prices of agricultural commodities.

On Saturday, Fadnavis declared a Rs30,000 crore farm loan waiver for 31 lakh farmers, to come into effect from October 31. But a section of farmers’ outfits is not happy and want loans of all 1.34 crore farmers in the state to be written off. The demand is supported by Opposition parties and the BJP’s main ally, the Shiv Sena. Significantly, two influential farmers’ outfits, the late Sharad Joshi-founded Shetkari Sanghatana and MP Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, have decided to jump into the agitation. Shetti is an ally of the BJP. A 21-member core committee of prominent farmers’ leaders in the state has been formed, which will be meeting on June 8 in Nashik to decide on a future course of the agitation.

Anticipating trouble and in the backdrop of the violence in neighbouring MP on a same issue, the state government’s orders that prohibit five or more people from assembling at a spot will remain in effect till June 16 in Pune, June 17 in Kolhapur and June 19 in Nashik.

In Mumbai, the vegetable markets received regular supply and prices stablised on Tuesday. The rates of tomato dipped to Rs40 a dozen, while cauliflower was priced at Rs 60 a kilogram. Fruits like chikoo dipped to Rs40 a dozen from Rs120 a dozen when the strike was at its peak on Friday.

In a significant development, NCP chief Sharad Pawar called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi apparently to seek his attention to the farmers’ agitation in Maharashtra. According to reports, Modi told Pawar that Fadnavis would take a call on loan waiver.

Significantly, state government’s hopes to get any assistance from the Centre to write off farmers’ loans suffered a setback as union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who was in Mumbai on Tuesday, categorically ruled out any loan waiver package or aid by the Centre to the state for the purpose. “Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have announced loan waivers on their own and Maharashtra will have to follow the same,” Naidu told reporters.

In the backdrop of the agitations, Fadnavis met BJP’s ministers late on Tuesday. The meeting was held to review the BJP’s recently undertaken farmer outreach campaign Shivar Samwad (Dialogue with Farmers) across nearly 43,000 villages in Maharashtra, at his official residence Varsha. The review comes ahead of party president Amit Shah’s visit to Maharashtra as a part of his all India 95-day campaign tour to review organisational strengths of the BJP across all states, on June 16, 17 and 18.

First Published: Jun 07, 2017 11:07 IST