Even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tried to allay the concerns of farmers in a two-hour meeting on Sunday, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said it was not convinced by the assurances and would go ahead with the farmers’ march from Nashik to Mumbai as planned on February 20.
The farmers will reach Mumbai on February 27 during the Budget Session of the state legislature. The Budget Session is slated to begin on February 25.
The meeting with a delegation of AIKS leaders, held at the Sahyadri guesthouse in Malabar Hill, was chaired by Fadnavis with ministers Girish Mahajan, Sadabhau Khot and senior government officials in attendance. Issues related to forest rights claims, water, loan waiver, drought assistance and crop insurance, among others, were discussed.
Move highlights distrust in govt
The move by the AIKS to go ahead with the farmers’ march despite assurances from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis points towards farmers’ distrust in the government. As the state stares at a severe drought in several parts in the coming months, anger among farmers may show the Fadnavis government in poor light in the election season. The BJP, which faced defeats in MP and Rajasthan Assembly polls last year, is trying to placate farmers to ensure the poll results in the two states do not spill over on to Maharashtra.
“More than 43,000 forest rights claims were cleared in just three months. More than 10,000 forest rights claims were cleared in Palghar and 11,372 in Thane,” said Fadnavis, adding that directions have been given to clear the rest by March 15 and also for allotting land not below 1 acre.
AIKS leaders claimed the government has not implemented several assurances it gave in March 2018 when around 40,000 farmers had undertaken their first “long march” from Nashik to Mumbai to protest against several issues, including distress in the farm sector.
CPI(M) legislator Jiva Pandu Gavit said the delegation of AIKS leaders that met the CM was not convinced by his assurances. “Several assurances were given to dissuade us from proceeding with the march. However, going by our experience in the last one year, we can’t believe any of these and, hence, we will carry on with the march as planned,” said Gavit.
“Despite assurances, the government has not extended the farm loan waiver scheme by one year. Though the government has cleared several forest rights claims, many claims are missing from government offices and a decision needs to be taken on it,” said Dr Ajit Nawale, AIKS state general secretary.
Nawale said a decision on the Nar-Par and Daman Ganga and Pinjal river-linking project has not been taken yet. He further said the government has not increased the amount for pension schemes for the destitute and aged persons.