MUMBAI: When more than 25,000 farmers in red topis with red flags began their long march from Nasik last week, the mood was one of anger against the State government. That changed on on Monday when they had threatened to gherao Vidhan Bhavan.
In what could only be termed as deft political management, the protestors agreed to change their meeting venue to the Azad Maidan instead of halting at the Somaiya ground in Chunabhatti on Sunday and starting for Vidhan Bhavan early morning. Had they insisted, Mumbai would have come to a standstill. They agreed go to Azad Maidan at night, to not hinder daytime traffic.
“I was not sure if they would be ready to walk another 10-15 km in the night after walking for six days. But by 1am, the police told me that just on a single instruction from MLA Gavit, who was leading the march, they started walking in a disciplined manner,” said irrigation minister Girish Mahajan, who was with the farmers till they reached Azad Maidan around 5 am.
Such spirit of accommodation is rarely seen in politics, more so if it is the CPM that is agitating against the BJP government.Later in the day, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accepted the demands of farmers, including their right to till forest land.
“We met with their representatives at Vidhan Bhawan. We have agreed to set up a committee to allot agricultural land to tribals provided they submit proof of pre-2005 land cultivation.”For his part, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury stated that the farmers were ending their agitation.