Over 20,000 farmers have started a two-day march from Thane to Mumbai’s iconic Azad Maidan. The farmers are demanding compensation for drought, an unconditional farm loan waiver and the transfer of forest rights to tribals. In the run-up to the 2019 national election, states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have been facing massive farmer protests.
Farmer leaders claim the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has not yet kept promises made during talks to end the March agitation; the protesters had demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee Report, which said farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water.
The farmers are also demanding an increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a judicial system to ensure its implementation.
On November 18, over 70 trains were disrupted in Punjab near Dasua, where farmers sat on rail tracks protesting non-payment of sugarcane dues by the state government.
“Two bills to ensure these rights were drafted by the All India Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AISCC) and placed in parliament but both bills have been languishing. More than 60 per cent of the voters in India are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. The ruling party and opposition will now understand the gravity of this problem,” Avik Saha, leader of Jai Kisan Andolan said.
Backing the protest, the CPM tweeted, “Damning report on Modi’s demonetisation disaster from the horse’s mouth! Agriculture Ministry admits note bandi hit farmers badly, at time when farmers from across India head to Delhi to mark their anger in the form of a massive Kisan Long March to parliament.”
PM Modi, while campaigning in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, said his “government is aiming to double farmers’ income by 2022.” He slammed the Congress for repeatedly “cheating farmers” by making “fake promises” on their loan waiver schemes.