The All India Kisan Sabha is leading the protest, which includes peasants walking in the blistering heat with banners, placards, posters, and slogans en route from Nashik.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra farmers continued their 175-kilometer “long march” to Mumbai for the second day, despite the government’s announcement that it would hold talks with a delegation of leaders on Wednesday.
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) is leading the farmers’ protest, which includes over 10,000 peasants walking in the scorching heat with banners, placards, posters, and slogans.
More than 10,000 farmers in Maharashtra began a long march from Nashik to Mumbai on Monday. They want to see changes in agriculture. They began the protest after their crops were harmed by rain that fell when it wasn’t supposed to.
They also wanted a fair price for their crops, no more farm loans, no more electricity bills, and power for 12 hours a day. One of the most important things they wanted was for the Forest Rights Act of 2006 to be put into place and for them to own the forest land they are farming.
The marching farmers were enthusiastically welcomed in various villages by the locals, offered food and water, and people expressed their support to the cause as they walked past.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis were slated to meet the farmers’ leaders on Tuesday, but the meeting was put off owing to the strike launched by state government employees demanding return to the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).
“We were informed that the meeting has been cancelled, but no reasons were given… Our march continues as usual,” AIKS Maharashtra General Secretary Dr Ajit Nawale told the media.
Slamming Shinde’s offer of giving an ex-gratia of Rs 300/quintal for onion growers, he said it was too meagre and the amount should be hiked to at least Rs 600/quintal, failing which the agitation would intensify.
“Unless the government talks to us, we may be compelled to block the Mumbai-Gujarat Highway, only then they will listen,” Nawale said.
Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar and other Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders have raised the matter in the Assembly and have rooted for the distressed farmers’ cause.
Congress state President Nana Patole, NCP state President Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena-UBT leaders like Bhaskar Jadhav and others have demanded that the government should give between Rs 500-Rs 700/quintal to the farmers reeling under a crisis owing to fallen prices.
From the government side, Nashik Guardian Minister Dada Bhuse said that at the Wednesday meeting, the CM and Deputy CM as well as concerned department secretaries shall be present to discuss the issues and resolve the farmers’ problems.
He expressed confidence that all the positive demands would be heard out and the needful would be done for the farmers.
On Sunday, the AIKS released its 17-point charter of demands which includes compensation for onion growers and MSP of Rs 2000/quintal from the next season, better prices for other crops like cotton, soybean, tur, green gram, milk, and related issues of ASHA workers, etc.
This is the third “long march” by farmers in the past five years – the first one was in 2018, later in 2019, and again this year.