Thousands of farmers protests against BJP-led govt to address their problems

Thousands of farmers protests against BJP-led govt to address their problems

The 180-km protest march - termed as the "Long March of farmers" - has been organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS), the peasants' wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The farmers, who have for the past six days been on a long-march from Nashik in north Maharashtra to Mumbai, made their way from Thane to Somaiya Grounds, north-central Mumbai, where they halted for the night.

However, he clarified that he had come with party chief Uddhav Thackeray's message and not as a cabinet minister in the state government.

"Farmers marching into Mumbai".

Tarabai Chaudhari, a 50-year-old farmer from Vani village in the Dindori taluka of the Nashik district, said: "We have been raising this demand for years, but nobody pays any heed to us". A complete loan waiver is one of the main demands of these farmers.

The agitating farmers are also demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the destruction of crops due to hailstorm and pink-worm, allocation of forest land under cultivation to farmers and implementation of Forest Rights Act. "How can the government let billionaires like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya (another fugitive) have gala time at foreign shores and farmers suffer because of increasing debts?" asked a protesting farmer.

The similar demands of loan waiver and almost 50 percent profit over the input cost have been made by farmers across the country, putting the BJP-led central government in a delima.

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The agitating farmers are now heading towards the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion.

Apart from Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the march on Saturday received support from Raj Thackeray, who heads the rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

On Monday, the march will be addressed by AIKS national president Ashok Dawale, CPI (M) MLA JP Gavit, state president Kisan Gujar and working president Arjun Ade among others. "All Congress legislators (are) with the farmers", the Congress leader said.

BJP also reached out to the protesters on Sunday with Mahajan meeting a delegation of farmers as a representative of the chief minister.

Thackeray said the Shiv Sena stood "shoulder to shoulder" with farmers in their struggle. From there, they will proceed to the state assembly, another 2 km away, on Monday.

With all eyes set on the Fadnavis government, Monday is crucial not just for Nawale and his 30,000 farmers but also for Mumbaikars.

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