Maharashtra farmers to go on ‘strike’ from Wednesday night

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Mumbai, May 31 (IANS) Farmers across Maharashtra on Wednesday said that they plan to launch an indefinite strike starting midnight after talks with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on various issues, including the long-pending demand of a loan waiver, collapsed.

“With the farmers going on strike, major cities like Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur could face shortages of essentials fruits, vegetables, milk and food grains in the coming days,” said Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti.

“Farmers are committing suicides all over the state… The government is insensitive to their plight. We have no options but to launch the strike.. After a fortnight we will intensify it,” Shetti told IANS.

Late on Tuesday, representatives of the Kisan Kranti Morcha (KMM) a state-level coordination committee of various farmers organisations, met Fadnavis, but failed to get any concrete commitments, he added.

Shetti said the strike is “a loss of face for Prime Minister Narendra Modi” who had assured to resolve farmers issues during the 2014 election, and “a failure of the state BJP”.

The government however said it is still hopeful of working out a last-minute solution.

“We are discussing all the issues with farmers’ leaders. We are sympathetic to their demands. I am certain we will hammer out an amicable solution and resolve the issues,” Minister of State for Agriculture Sadabhau Khot told media persons.

A group of around 200 farmers of Puntamba village in Ahmednagar district were the first to announce the strike from June 1, and many others followed suit.

The farmers’ demands include complete waiver of farm loans, free electricity, appropriate remunerative prices for their produce, grant for irrigation and higher price for milk and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

The Fadnavis government had been under severe fire from not only the opposition parties – Congress and NCP – but also its own allies – the Shiv Sena and the Shetti-led SSS.

In a massive show of strength on Tuesday, Shetti completed his long march from Pune to Mumbai and met Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao to apprise him of the serious situation involving farmers.

–IANS

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