Protests by Madhya Pradesh's farmers continued to rage for an eighth straight day on Thursday, even as proceedings took a political turn after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi announced his decision to visit Mandsaur.
Farmers had resorted to violence and arson on Wednesday despite prohibitory measures, posing a major challenge for chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and providing a rallying point for the opposition parties.
In view of the volatile situation, the Centre had rushed 1,100 personnel of RAF to the violence-hit state where the farmers have been agitating for loan waiver and better crop prices.
The Chouhan government had sought to cool the tempers by announcing certain measures, including a loan settlement scheme for those cultivators who had defaulted on repayment of farm loan borrowed by them earlier. The scheme was said to cover around six lakh farmers, with accumulated dues of Rs 6,000 crore, according to the government.
Protests spill over to Rajasthan
However, even before the Madhya Pradesh government's efforts could bear fruit, protests have begun in neighbouring state, Rajasthan.
A report in The Tribune had said farmers from Rajasthan's Pratapgarh district had stopped the supply of milk and vegetables on Wednesday. A farmer’s body, Kisan Mahapanchayat, was planning to hold a dharna at Mandi Bandh in Pratapgarh on Thursday. "We will be meeting farmers in Tonk, Sawai Madhopur, Kota Bundi, Bhilwara, Chhittorgarh, Pratapgarh and Ajmer in the next three days to decide future course of action," said Rampal Jat, president of the body.
Former MLA and All India Kisan Sabha state president Pema Ram said the Rajasthan farmers will launch a state-wide agitation if the government fails to meet their demands. "Problem of farmers in Rajasthan are the same as that of those in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. We also want higher prices for milk, hike in minimum support price (MSP) and loan waiver. Farmers would submit memorandum to district collectors and the state government should take our ultimatum seriously," he said.
All eyes on Maharashtra farmers' meet in Nashik
The farmers' protests owes its genesis to Maharashtra, and it was here that the stir initially began on 1 June. On Thursday, Maharashtra's farmers will hold a meeting to decide on the future course of action. Villagers of Puntamba, in Rahata taluka of Ahmednagar district, where the movement originated, said they will take a decision on whether to resume supplies of produce. Committee member Hansraj Wadghule was quoted by saying in The Indian Express that said farmers in Nashik will continue with their boycott until a fresh decision is taken.
Punjab farmers to discuss future course of action
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) has announced that it will hold protests at all district headquarters in Punjab on Friday demanding a loan waiver, and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. A key recommendation of the report is that the government must offer a 'Minimum Support Price', which will be at least 50 percent more than the total input cost.
As per a report in The Indian Express, the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab has promised a loan waiver for farmers and set up an expert panel. The government has also abolished kurki, the practice by cooperative banks of auctioning land mortgaged by farmers to recover loans in cases of default.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017 12:41 PM