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Farmers’ Fury & Politics

In Maharashtra, Raju Shetty, an MP from Kolhapur, led a procession from Pune to Mumbai with thousands of farmers, forcing everyone to take notice. Following this, farmers’ unions called a seven-day strike in the state and threatened to stop grocery supplies.

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Just last year, NITI Aayog had called Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the most farmer-friendly states. So it was ironical when two of the three states, all led by the BJP government, witnessed the worst farmer protests ever last week.Pradesh and Rajasthan the most farmer-friendly states. So it was ironical when two of the three states, all led by the BJP government, witnessed the worst farmer protests ever last week.

In Maharashtra, Raju Shetty, an MP from Kolhapur, led a procession from Pune to Mumbai with thousands of farmers, forcing everyone to take notice. Following this, farmers’ unions called a seven-day strike in the state and threatened to stop grocery supplies. Their top demands included a complete loan waiver, free electricity and pension to those aged 60 years or more.electricity and pension to those aged 60 years or more.

Spotting a political opportunity in the protest, the opposition pounced and came out in support of the protests in Maharashtra. New leaders were announced to settle political scores. But it was only when Jayraj Suryavasnhi, a leader of farmers, met Maharashtra chief minister to declare the end of strike, but eventually succumbed to pressure from opposition sensing a backfire, it became evident it was no more a protest by the farmers.strike, it became evident it was no more a protest by the farmers.strike, but eventually succumbed to pressure from opposition sensing a backfire, it became evident it was no more a protest by the farmers.

In Madhya Pradesh (MP), the protest was spearheaded by Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), a farmers’ union, backed by RSS. Sensing trouble, chief minister Shivaraj Singh Chauhan met BKS delegates in Ujjain on 4 June and accepted 11 out of 13 demands.  Shivaraj Singh Chauhan met BKS delegates in Ujjain on 4 June and accepted 11 out of 13 demands.  

But the acceptance — on which the opposition put a political spin to its advantage — had an adverse impact; it claimed five lives in Mandsaur, a district in  MP. The deaths escalated tension; even compensation of Rs 1 crore could not save it from becoming a political schema. Protests resumed soon joined by the entire opposition party of the state. Members of largely-unknown Bhartiya Kisan Union allegedly burnt effigy of the state secretary of BKS, blaming him for cheating on farmers. The crowd became so uncontrollable the police had to use tear-gas and allegedly bullets too. The administration had to impose an indefinite curfew in Mandsaur. Internet services were also banned to avoid spreading of rumours in the affected area. Subsequently, the Prime Minister had to call a meeting with top ministers for the assessment of situation. Now the news of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the district has further politicised the situation.  effigy of the state secretary of BKS, blaming him for cheating on farmers. The crowd became so uncontrollable the police had to use tear-gas and allegedly bullets too. The administration had to impose an indefinite curfew in Mandsaur. Internet services were also banned to avoid spreading of rumours in the affected area. Subsequently, the Prime Minister had to call a meeting with top ministers for the assessment of situation. Now the news of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the district has further politicised the situation.  

“This is no more a farmers’ protest. I knew that political involvement will only crucify them” says

Shivakant Dixit, state secretary of BKS.  

The nature of these protests is very different from the recent protest by farmers in Tamil Nadu who witnessed the most severe drought of the century last year. Farmers were forced to stage protest half-naked in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to get attention of the thick-skinned policy-makers.

Farmers’ fury is setting a dangerous trend and needs a lasting solution.

—  Prabodh Krishn;


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