Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday warned the BJP-led Maharashtra government of a mass movement if the demands of the farmers were not fulfilled within six months. “This time there were written agreements over the demands. The government now has six months’ time. If they do not meet the demands of the farmers, the next stage of this protest will not stay confined to farmers alone. It will be a mass movement,” the CPI(M) general secretary said, according to news agency ANI.
An estimated 40,000 farmers, many of them tribals, marched from Nashik to Mumbai, covering a 180-km stretch in six days, to reach Vidhan Sabha on Monday and raise their demands. The state government Monday accepted most of their demands, including their right to cultivate forest land and extension of farm loan waiver to those who had borrowed money between 2001 and 2008. “We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
Taking a dig at the BJP and the NDA government, Yechury, as quoted by ANI, further said while the BJP wanted ‘an ‘Opposition-free India’, farmers wanted a debt-free country. “BJP & govt want ‘Vipaksh Mukt Bharat’, our & farmers’ demand is ‘Karza Mukt Bharat. In 2016, more than one Lakh farmers had protested in Nashik over the same issue. This long march started after govt went back on their promises back then,” he said.
Earlier, addressing the farmers at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Monday, the CPI-M general secretary said, “We will continue our fight until we manage to stop farmers’ suicides. While the government is giving a waiver to corporates, it is refusing the same to farmers.” Yechury also censured Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking action against “corporates who are looting the country”.
While accepting the farmers’ demands, the government said the issue of forest land transfer rights would be resolved within six months, and a committee would be set up with two representatives from Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha to look into problems of loan waiver.