Watch! Protesting farmers undertake Long March 2.0 from Nashik to Mumbai

Images from the Kisans gathered on Wednesday Feb 20, 2019

Thousands of farmers embarked on a 180-km march from Nashik to Mumbai for the second time in the last 12 months to protest against what they termed as the ‘betrayal’ of peasants by the BJP governments at the state and centre.

The march organisers on Thursday said that the decision to continue the march was taken after late night parleys with Maharashtra government to address their demands remained inconclusive. They have three major demands.

The Kisan Long March-2, expected to take over nine days to complete, is being organised by the CPI(M)-backed All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

The march could not be taken out Wednesday as police stopped many farmers from reaching Nashik, the AIKS claimed. Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan met some AIKS representatives in Nashik Wednesday night.

“We held talks with the minister for over three hours. The government appeared positive to 80 per cent of our demands. The minister said he would speak to Chief Minister
Devendra Fadnavis first,” AIKS president Ashok Dhawale said.

The AIKS has accused the government of not fulfilling assurances given to farmers last year after they marched between the two cities, seeking farm loan waiver, minimum support price for crops, irrigation facilities and provision of pension to agriculturists.

The AIKS also said it is opposed to the multi-billion dollar Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project which has seen several farmers along the proposed route approach court
against land acquisition.

Images from the Kisans gathered in Nashik on Wednesday Feb 20, 2019

In a blog post the AIKS said that the Long March, will begin from Nashik on February 20, the martyrdom anniversary of Comrade Govind Pansare, and will culminate in Mumbai on February 27, the martyrdom anniversary of Chandrashekhar Azad. The state assembly’s budget session begins in Mumbai on February 25.

This Long March is expected to be double in size compared to the one held last year. While the last Long March began with around 25,000 peasants, this time the number at the starting point is expected to cross 50,000.

Images from the Kisans gathered on Wednesday Feb 20, 2019

Along with the lion’s share of farmers from Nashik district, this time there will be a huge contingent from Thane-Palghar district, followed by Ahmednagar district, the post said. Several other districts in Marathwada, Vidarbha, Western Maharashtra, Northern Maharashtra and Konkan regions will also be well represented.

THREE MAJOR OBJECTIVES

The AIKS has planned this march to condemn the BJP-led state and central governments for the utter betrayal of their own assurances given to farmers and agricultural workers. This betrayal has further intensified the grave agrarian crisis. This march is, therefore,  being held with three major objectives in mind.

  • To take the BJP-led state government to task for its poor implementation of the demands that it had conceded in writing last year. At the insistence of the AIKS, the chief minister had also placed the written agreement with the Kisan Sabha on the floor of both houses of the legislature the very next day on March 13. In spite of giving a commitment to that effect and in spite of the repeated reminders by the AIKS, the state government did not hold even a single review meeting during the whole of last year with the AIKS to take stock of the implementation of the demands that had been conceded. Thus, issues like the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), extension of loan waiver (only Rs 17,700 crore out of the package of Rs 34,000 crore that it was forced to announce after the 11-day Farmers’ Strike in Maharashtra in June 2017 has been disbursed), remunerative prices, increase in pensions and other demands are still not implemented.

  • The second objective is to focus on the grim drought that has severely affected half of Maharashtra this year. The response of the state government to the plight of the people hit by drought has been scandalous. The eight districts of Marathwada region are the epicentre of this drought, although large parts of Vidarbha and other regions are also affected.
  • The third objective is to denounce the Narendra Modi-led BJP central government for its callous and ‘jumlebaj’ attitude to farmers and agricultural workers. The BJP regime has betrayed both the commitments made by its prime minister in over 400 election meetings in 2014, of giving a complete loan waiver and of implementing the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission of declaring MSP at one and a half times the entire cost of production (C2 plus 50 per cent).

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