Mumbai: As the agitation of farmers in Maharashtra continued for the fourth day on Sunday and the supply of vegetables and milk remained largely hit, farmers’ outfits said they were firm on going ahead with the ‘Maharashtra bandh’ tomorrow, excluding Mumbai.
The BJP’s ruling partner the Shiv Sena also extended its support to the ‘bandh’ call.
The prices of vegetables and fruits have been on an upward path in cities, including Mumbai, due to the drastic fall in supplies from key production centres like Nashik and Ahmednagar.
Farmers, who have been on war path since June 1 for their demands, including waiver of farm loan and other concessions like lower power tariff, continued the agitation for the fourth day on Sunday in parts of Maharashtra, including Nashik and Ahmednagar, which have become nerve centres of the protest.
A meeting of farmers’ representatives from different parts of the state under the aegis of the Kisan Kranti Morcha (KKM), that is spearheading the agitation, was held at the agriculture produce market committee in Nashik on Sunday afternoon.
During the meeting several resolutions were passed and a decision to go ahead with the Maharashtra bandh (excluding Mumbai) was taken. The call for the bandh was given two days back.
“The Kisan Kranti Morcha committee has given a call for ‘Maharashtra bandh’ tomorrow, excluding Mumbai,” convener of the committee, Chandrakant Bankar, said.
A farmer leader from Nashik said, “The call for Maharashtra bandh had already been given, but it was suspended after a delegation of farmers met the chief minister.
“Now, as the government tried to sabotage our stir, we have decided to go ahead with ‘Maharashtra bandh’ tomorrow. The decision was taken this afternoon after a meeting of farmers’ leaders in Nashik.”
As part of the ‘Maharashtra bandh’ tomorrow, the farmers’ groups have decided to lock down the government offices, another farmer leader said.
Late tonight, the Shiv Sena extended its “full support” to the ongoing agitation, including the call for the ‘Maharashtra bandh’.
“We have been vocal about our disappointment over the BJP government on the farmers issues as well as on the delay in announcing the loan waiver.
“Today, the party decided to participate in the ‘Maharashtra bandh’ agitation, which will exclude Mumbai. The agitation will take place in the rest of Maharashtra,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
According to one of the resolutions passed during the Nashik meeting, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis should implement the farmers’ demands “instead of just giving assurances”.
Demand for withdrawal of cases registered against the farmers at different places across the state during the stir was also part of the resolution, Bankar said.
A core committee meeting of the KKM will be held in Mumbai on June 7 and a statewide convention of farmers will be held in Nashik on June 8 to decide their future course of action, he added.
“Demands of farmers include a complete loan waiver, implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report and cancellation of the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur ‘Samruddhi’ expressway,” Bankar said.
He appealed to the traders and transporters to join the ongoing protest by farmers.
In Yavatmal, a farmers’ outfit ‘Shetkari Nyaya Hakka Anodolan Samiti’ announced its support to the state-wide one- day ‘bandh’ tomorrow.
At some places in Nashik district, farmers staged rasta- rokos and poured milk on the roads, the police said.
At places like Yeola and Manmad in Nashik district farmers also took out rallies against the state government late this evening.
Farmers in Marathwada also continued their protests.
According to officials, while the supply of vegetables and milk to various markets has improved as compared to yesterday, the state authorities are trying to provide more protection to the vegetable and milk suppliers, who are bringing the produce to Mumbai from neighbouring districts.
“The vegetable and milk supply has to be smooth as its lower availability will have double impact– the farmers who could not send their produce will incur losses, while the artificial increase in vegetables prices will affect the consumers,” a senior state government official said.
Meanwhile, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and sitting MP from Kolhapur, Raju Shetti, said, “I am personally supporting the farmers’ strike and members of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) will participate in it at various areas of the state.”
Shetti called his associate and Maharashtra Minister of State for Agriculture and Marketing and SSS leader Sadabhau Khot a “traitor” for “breaching” the trust of farmers for allegedly causing a split in the farmers strike.
“Sadabhau has breached the trust of the farmers. He was once the favourite leader of farmers, but now he has become a traitor. He wants to be close to power than protesting for the farmers’ rights,” Shetti said when asked about the role Khot played when a group of farmers under the banner Kisan Kranti Morcha came to Mumbai and called off the strike on Friday.
“Khot has brokered the deal with the government and sabotaged the agitation. His action is against the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna’s decision to support the strike. He will be called before the state-level meeting of working committee of the SSS,” Shetti said.
Farmers in Maharashtra launched the stir on June 1 for their various demands, prominent being waiving loans due to crop failures and indebtedness, and guaranteed MSP.
After holding talks with leaders of farmers on late Friday night, the chief minister had yesterday announced that his government would waive loans of farmers with small land- holding.
He said 80 per cent of such farmers are in Vidarbha and Marathwada who will benefit by the move.
After the announcement, some farmer leaders announced that the stir stands withdrawn. However, a section of farmers had expressed their resolve to continue with the agitation.