WRAPPING UP a week that saw violent protests by farmers in Madhya Pradesh demanding better price for their produce, resulting in death of six farmers in police firing in Mandsaur, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday began a fast on Bhopal’s Dussehra Maidan to calm frayed tempers and assured farmers that his government would give them “profitable prices”. Both the Opposition Congress and Shiv Sena, a BJP ally at the Centre and in Maharashtra, criticised Chouhan for going on indefinite fast instead of addressing the issue.
No violence was reported from any part of the state, including Mandsaur, the epicentre of the agitation, on Saturday. Curfew was lifted in Mandsaur town, though night curfew will continue in Pipliamandi, where five farmers were killed in police firing on Tuesday. Chouhan, who met small groups of farmers, said that he realises a bumper crop production sent prices crashing, and that the state government “stands firm with farmers”.
“We are going to buy farm produce and give profitable prices for it. We have already bought a huge quantity of onions at minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 8 per kg. Each onion of farmers will be bought… We are going to buy different varieties of pulses at MSP,” PTI quoted Chouhan as saying. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya met Chouhan and told him that farmers were at times unable to reap the benefits of welfare schemes “due to shortcomings of the bureaucracy”.
In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s fast is a drama…it is a sham…nothing but a pretence. He should answer why a case of murder has not been filed in the death of five farmers in MP.” Congress chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia said he will also undertake a 72-hour fast to support the cause of farmers. Shiv Sena’s media in-charge Apoorva Dubey, who went to Dussehra Maidan, said, “Instead of sitting here, he should have gone to Mandsaur to comfort and help farmers.”