The farmers' protest in Mumbai was called off on Monday after they reached an agreement with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The government has agreed to give a written draft of the solutions to the concerns of farmers within the next two months.
A 12-member delegation of the protesting farmers had met a six-member government committee, even as a statement by Chief Minister angered the farmers further. “We have accepted most of their demands and have given them a written letter,” says Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis.
To help farmers to reach their home back, the Central Railway has arranged two special trains from Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Bhusawal at 8.50 pm and 10 pm on Monday.
“Today, if the farmers' demands are not conceded, they will shake up the state and the Centre and remove the government and install a government of their choice which will stand by the farmers' cause", CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri had said while addressing the farmers' rally in Mumbai.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had formed a six-member team of ministers on Sunday itself to look into the farmers' issue. The six-member ministers’ team’s -- Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan, PWD Minister Eknath Shinde, Agriculture Minister Pandhurang Phundkar, Cabinet Minister for Tribal Development Vishnu Sawara and Cabinet Minister of Sahakar and Panan Subhash Deshmukh- meeting with the farmers’ leaders paved the way to the amicable solution. Out of many, the major demands of farmers are the complete waiver of loans and electricity bills and the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
Around 50,000 farmers participated in the gherao protest on Monday. The farmers’ union, a CPI (M) wing, marched almost 200 km for last five days from Nashik district to reach the Thane-Mumbai border on Sunday before heading for the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion. But the red march was totally peaceful. The march did not affect either the traffic or the Board examination of around one lakh Mumbai students. The meticulous planning and an understanding with the government officials have helped the CPI (M) Union to lead their agitation in a non-controversial manner. Event Mumbai civic body and the Mumbai Police have provided four water tankers and 50 mobile toilets for the farmers at the venue.
The farmers who had camped at the KJ Somaiya Ground in Sion on Sunday began moving towards the Azad Maidan during the midnight. All of them camped at Azad Maidan by early morning. On Monday, only after allowing one lakh students to write Board exam, the farmers began to move from Azad Maidan to the Assembly building which is just two kilometers away and started their gherao in a peaceful manner.
But now Fadnavis' statement on the Floor of the Assembly on Monday has opened a new chapter of controversy. Fadnavis said 95 per cent of those camping at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan were tribals and technically not farmers. But farmer leaders called the statement 'a lie' and accused the government of trying to discredit the protest.
In what may snowball into another controversy, BJP MP Poonam Majahan called the protesting farmers 'urban Maoists'. However, hitting back, Left leader M B Rajesh advised her to "read the newspapers".