MUMBAI: A day after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis formed a group of ministers (GoM) to initiate dialogue with agitating farmers in the state, cracks started showing in the 21-member steering committee with a few of them skipping the panel’s meeting on Saturday.
The committee had decided to meet in Mumbai on Saturday to discuss its stand on the invitation from the GoM. Agricultural economist Giridhar Patil said that the farmers’ committee was being driven by politics, and not by farmers’ issues. “Farmers have formed the steering committee with great trust.
But, many of the members of the committee are politically motivated and are acting in their own interest rather than pursuing the interests of the farmers. Hence, I have decided not to attend today’s meeting,” Patil said.
He added that the president of Shetkari Sanghatana Anil Ghanwat, Dr Budhajirao Mulik and Ramchandra Patil too boycotted the committee meet.
In the light of stand taken by the farmer leaders, Member of Parliament Raju Shetti, independent MLA Bachchu Kadu and Raghunath Patil too did not attend the meeting that started post noon.
Talking on taking the farmers’ movement ahead, Shetkari Sanghatana said that there was a need to push for agricultural reforms. “We have put forth an eight-point agenda of agricultural reforms that includes opening up of agricultural economy and doing away with several restrictions including that of import and export of farm produce, excluding farm produce from Essential Goods and Services Act (ESMA), waiver of all farm loans and electricity bills, doing away with Land Ceiling Act etc. If these demands are met, that would do some justice to the farmers,” Ghanwat told the New Indian Express.
He also said that the government should compensate farmers for the blunders they made in case of Tur and Soyabean. “The government announced assured prices and then imported the items bringing down the rates. This has caused huge losses to the farmers, which government needs to compensate.
Apart from these, the government should exercise restraint while acquiring farm land for government projects,” he said, adding that the government should never acquire land for private projects.
“We have been pushing for this eight-point agenda that applies to all the farmers in India,” Ghanwat said.