Maharashtra farmers hold protest over Modi’s unfulfilled promises

New Delhi, (IANS): At least 100 farmers from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region held a daylong hunger strike on Friday to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi of promises he made during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign.

The farmers from Dhabhadi village of Yavatmal district of Vidarbha — the epicentre of farmers’ suicides in the country — sat at the Jantar Mantar here. Led by former Congress minister Shivajirao Moghe, the farmers’ slogan was ‘Teen saal, kisan ka bura haal’.

They said Modi had then promised them a 50 per cent profit on agriculture produce, easy loans, cheap electricity and facilities of warehouses, cold storage, setting up of agro-industry — but all remain unfulfilled.

In March 2014, Modi had addressed farmers at 1,500 different places from Dhabhadi through video-conferencing over his famous ‘chai pe charcha’ concept.

Senior Congress leaders such as Jyotiraditya Scindia and Oscar Fernandes met these farmers and promised to raise their issues during the upcoming session of the Parliament.

“We have not got fair price for our crops, especially cotton, tur (pigeon pea) in the last three years. Modi-ji has not fulfilled any of his electoral promises,” said Gajanan Dhongle, a farmer from Dabhadi, who owns 2.5 acres of land.

Another farmer Janusingh Jadhav said there was no decline in the number of farmers’ suicides in last three years and distress among them was growing day-by-day due to poor policies of the BJP-led central and Maharashtra governments.

Former Congress minister Moghe said he has been holding such protests in Dabhadi, Yavatmal and Nagpur since the last two years but they did not make any impact.

“One of Modi’s promises was additional 50 per cent as profit over and above input cost. He has failed to keep his word. So we decided to hold one-day hunger strike in Delhi to make him aware of its promises and duties toward farmers,” Moghe said.

Fernandes said the BJP government should not look at farmers’ issues through political lenses.

“It is a national issue and affects everyone. We want the government to take the decision of loan waiver as Manmohan Singh government did. We are going to raise these issues in the upcoming Parliamentary session,” Fernandes said.

Moghe said he will organise conferences in Yavatmal, Amravati and Nagpur in Maharashtra, where experts and activists will be called to identify reasons for government’s inaction and failure in solving farmers’ problems.

“Also, we will try to find out solutions to the problems farmers are facing now,” said Moghe, who was Social Justice Minister in the previous Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra.

At Jantar Mantar, there was another group of protesting farmers, who were assembled under Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu), demanding complete loan waiver.

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