Maharashtra farmers’ strike is also about politics and power

Fadnavis government in the state was not helped by the party’s internal struggles in dealing with the farmers’ strike which has continued despite the announcement of a loan waiver.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Published:June 7, 2017 8:13 pm
Maharashtra farmers protest, Devendra Fadnavis, shiv sena, Congress, Less than 48 hours after the strike started, Fadnavis announced a Rs 30,000 crore loan waiver –the biggest ever in Maharashtra. (Source: PTI photo/File)

The perennial discontent over minimum support prices has seen the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana in Maharashtra work meticulously to take up the farmers’ cause. However, the Fadnavis government in the state was not helped by the party’s internal struggles in dealing with the farmers’ strike which has continued despite the announcement of a loan waiver.

While the strike has seen political forces trying to reassert their might to counter the electoral consolidation of the ruling BJP in rural Maharashtra, what has played spoilsport for the government is the spate of irresponsible statements by party leaders with state president Raosaheb Danve abusing farmers which provided fodder to the Opposition and the Shiv Sena. Union minister for Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari expressing reservations over a loan waiver for farmers may also have had a role in the continuing protests.

Why is the strike continuing despite the state government announcing a loan waiver of ?

There are several indications that the strike is as much about farmer distress as it is about a power tussle within the party and opposition out to the leadership of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who has given the party repeated victory in local bodies elections.

His policy reforms in agriculture and the irrigation sectors have started yielding results giving individual farmers in villages water and access to power. The chief minister’s Jalyukta Shivar project (3.5 lakh works) seeks to make 11,454 villages drought free out of total 25,000 which are drought prone.

The monopoly of the big political leaders in controlling the village economy and agriculture resources has been challenged causing inconvenience to Congress and NCP who control the cooperative sector in Maharashtra.

The strike call coincided with the BJP’s fortnight long campaign – samvaad shivar – where 10,000 workers spread out across 90,000 booths to communicate the policy reforms of the state and Centre. The BJP campaign came in wake of the earlier Congress-NCP’s three phased “sangharsh yatra” across Maharashtra.

Out of the 36 districts in the state, the strike’s epicenter is confined to districts of Pune, Nashik and Ahmendnagar. The biggest demand of the farmers’ organisation lead by Kisam Kranti Morcha and political parties was a complete loan waiver.

Less than 48 hours after the strike started, Fadnavis announced a Rs 30,000 crore loan waiver –the biggest ever in Maharashtra. This gives relief to 40 lakh debt-ridden small and marginal farmers who can get into the institutional credit bracket and avail of fresh crop loans.

The state government also declared it introduce legislation making violation of the minimum support price a criminal offense.

The Kisan Kranti Morcha lead by Dhananjay Jadhav declared the strike was over. However, faction-ridden organisations with political parties backing disapproved of the withdrawal.

That the strike does not have widespread appeal can be judged by the fact that when the state wide bandh was called, 304 Agricultue Produce Market Committees (APMC) functioned out of total 307.

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  1. S
    Sharad Pant
    Jun 10, 2017 at 8:40 pm
    Dear Friends, I had carried out surveys in Vidarbha and Marathawada region of Maharashtra. I had meeting in villages with farmers; I carried out focus group discussions with farmers. The conclusion of the survey is that Small and marginal farmers don't want any loan waiver. They clearly shared that this type of measures makes farmers handicapped only. In place of that they demanded for i) Fair Minimum Support price (MSP) for their agriculture produce, ii) stop their exploitation in mandis by brokers iii) treat farming like an industry and ensure regular supply of water and electricity for farming. The loan waiver demand is from only the big farmers and politicians, they are taking big loan from banks and then they don't want to pay it and that is why they asking for loan waiver. Even in MSP procurement centers run by NAFED, these big farmers, brokers and politicians sel their produce and they are not allowing small farmers to sell their agriculture produce.
    1. J
      Jun 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm
      "Make hay while sun shines" policy may back-fire. Congress should show maturity rather than constantly discredit itself to remain rudderless and vote-less. Congress stunts are hugely benefiting the BJP.
      1. J
        Jun 9, 2017 at 11:32 pm
        Some one with in his fold want to clip CM's wings of popularity. Firing was uncalled for. CM is not the type who will resort to kil his vote bank.
        1. S
          Sandy Gaitonde
          Jun 9, 2017 at 3:27 am
          फडणवीस , पोलिसांचा संयम संपत आहे आजपासून इतिहासात प्रथमच शेतकरी राजा संपावर जात आहे, ना ो अशी ही घटना आहे.शेतकरी संपावर जाईल याचा स्वप्नात सुद्धा विचार कोणी केला नसेल.कारण तो असंघटीत आहे, असे समजून सर्वजण बळीराजाला गृहीत धरत होते.पण कालचक्र कठोर असते, आणि परिस्थिती विलक्षण ताकतवर असते.असेच पोलिसाबाबत सुद्धा म्हणावे लागेल. मागील काही वर्षांपासून महाराष्ट्र पोलिसांचे सुद्धा असेच खच्चीकरण चालू आहे.राजकीय हस्तक्षेप, मीडिया चा उन्माद, न्यायालयाची नकारात्मकता, राज्यकर्त्यांची उदासीनता यामुळे पोलिसांचा संयम सुटत चालला आहे.आणि आपल्याला कोणी वाली नाही ही भावना व्यक्तीला व्यवस्थेविरुद्ध संघटित व्हायला व बंड करण्यास प्रवृत्त करते, याचे शेतकरी संपापेक्षा ठळक उदाहरण समक्ष आहे.आणि ही असुरक्षितता फक्त हवालदार, शिपाई याच्यात आहे असे नाही तर IPS अधिकारी ते psi पर्यंत सुद्धा अमर्याद असंतोष सर्व पोलीस बांधवांच्या उरात आहे.काही दिवसांपूर्वी तत्कालीन महासंचालक प्रवीण दीक्षित एके ठिकाणी मुख्यमंत्री आणि इतर मंत्र्यांच्या सूट मध्ये कोपऱ्यात ना सारखे उभे असल्याचा फोटो व्हायरल झाला होता.जर आपला सेनाप
          1. S
            Jun 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm
            Is Sharad Pawar is giving the proverbial last kick?
            1. P
              Jun 7, 2017 at 10:22 pm
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