New demands divide farmers’ panel, key members skip meet

MUMBAI/PUNE: While farmer groups have threatened to intensify their agitation for June 12 if the state fails to meet their demands, cracks seem to be developing in the 21-member steering committee of farm activists and leaders formed to take up farmers’ issues with the government.

On Saturday, some key members of the committee skipped its meeting held in Mumbai alleging that new demands raised by others go against the primary demands.

Dr Giridhar Patil, renowned agriculturist from Nashik, skipped the meeting saying the new demands seem to give leeway to the state government. “Now, demands of pension for farmers, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and other issues have been made. These are dealt with by the Centre. If we raise these issues here, we are bound to lose the momentum,” Patil said. Agriculturists Ramchandrabapu Patil, Anil Ghanwat and Dr Buddhajirao Mulik also gave the meeting a miss.

The primary demands were withdrawal of cases registered against farmers, reforms in agriculture, remunerative returns for farmers and agriculture produce market committees, construction of cold storages and agriculture malls. They also demanded farm loan waiver.

“It is right vs left in the committee. The Shetkari Sanghatana, which played a major part in the farmers’ strike, is seen as a right-wing outfit. At the same time, the communists are pressing for their own agenda,” Patil said.

They committee has decided to meet on Sunday the panel of ministers formed by the government to talk to farmers group to find solutions for the agrarian crisis. Ashok Dawale of Kisan Sabha said a 35-member delegation will meet the committee and press for a blanket loan waiver and implementation of the Swaminathan commitee report.
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