A high-powered committee of senior ministers has been set up by the Maharashtra government to hold discussions with farmers’ organisations to end the unrest.
Farmers’ organisations had been continuing the protest even after a loan waiver for small and marginal farmers was announced, and the setting up of the committee was seen as a move to assuage the egos of faction-ridden farmers’ organisations.
The inclusion of a Shiv Sena minister was seen as a move to bring on board the BJP’s alliance partner in the dialogue process.
The committee, constituted by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday, will be led by Minister for Revenue and Public Works Chandrakant Patil. Others in the committee include Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Minister for Cooperation and Markets Subash Deshmukh, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan and Minister for Transport Diwakar Raote.
“The committee will hold discussions with all the farmers’ organisations,” said Fadnavis. “I once again appeal to all the farmers’ organisations to come forward and give their recommendations to the government on the farmers’ welfare.”
The committee will urge each farmers’ organisation district-wise to participate in the dialogue and make recommendations. It includes five BJP ministers and a Shiv Sena minister.
On June 1 and 2, the CM held a meeting with the Kisan Kranti Morcha and agreed to all their demands, including loan waiver and a proper minimum support price. But the committee had to be set up following a split in opinion among farmers’ groups. That the strike continued despite the loan waiver announcement was seen as an outcome of an ego tussle among the farmers’ groups. There seemed to be no single farmers’ organisation acceptable to all. The committee will hold talks with all the farmers’ groups from across Maharashtra.
Girish Mahajan said, “The CM has already announced a loan waiver. We would like to discuss with farmers’ bodies about ensuring that the loan waiver benefits the poor and needy and truly deserving.”
He added, “Some sections are wondering why the loan waiver should be extended to traders or professionals earning good salaries and own agricultural land and cultivate crops. Issues like this will be discussed.”
Government sources said, “The ministerial committee will discuss with farmers’ groups to urge them to take a realistic view of the loan waiver and ensure that the beneficiaries are needy and poor with small land holdings less than 5 acres.”