On Thursday last farmers in Maharashtra had started off with an indefinite strike so that they could curtail the supply of vegetables, fruits, and milk to cities like Mumbai. The result of this would be a steep rise in the prices of these items. The main demand of the farmers who had gone on a strike was a waiver of loans. However, the chief minister of Maharashtra has said that in order to implement a loan waiver for farmers, the state will have to spend around 30.50 crores to write off debts that are being owed by around 3.2 million farmers in Maharashtra. The farmers’ leader Dhanjay Jadav, on the other hand, had said that the strike will continue until their demand for loan waiver and remunerative prices of agriculture products are met. The farmers had also decided to call a strike in the state of Maharashtra excluding Mumbai.
It ought to be mentioned here that Maharashtra’s farmer strike is a lot about politics and power. One of the reasons as to why the strike continued was that the Fadnavis government was not helped by the internal strife within the party. Hence, even after the announcement of the loan waiver, the strike continued. As the strike started in Maharashtra all the political parties have tried hard to reassert their power over electoral consolidation in rural Maharashtra. The irresponsible statements made by the party leaders have gone against the party and the opposition has had a chance to leverage the situation. The fact that Nitin Gadkari had expressed reservations over loan waiver has also played an important role in the protests that continued in the state of Maharashtra.
Why strike continued even after announcing a loan waiver?
It is a common question that might come in the minds of people is that why did the protest continue in spite of the fact that the state government took the decision to write off the loans of the farmers. In fact, it is quite clear that the protests are as much about dissatisfaction among farmers as it is a power tussle within political parties. The situation of continuing struggles has made it easier for the opposition parties to take advantage of and put things against the present state leadership.
The policies that were introduced by the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavais in the agricultural and irrigation sector had started giving results. For example, the Jalyukta Shivar Project will be able to make around 11,454 villages drought-free.
The result of such a thing was not very pleasing for the big political parties who have a monopoly on controlling the village economy and the agriculture resources. In fact, it has caused a lot of inconvenience to Congress and NCP who control the cooperative sector in Maharashtra.
It needs to be mentioned here that the Fadnavis government had announced a Rs 30,000 crore loan waiver which is the biggest ever declared in the state of Maharashtra. The result of this announcement will give relief to around 40 lakh debt-ridden small and marginal farmers. The good thing is that these farmers can get into credit brackets and avail for fresh loans once again.
After this announcement by the state government, The Kisan Kranti Morcha that was led by Dhananjay Jadav had called off the strike. But the organizations that are backed by the opposition political parties refrained from calling off the strike.
Another factor that clearly shows that the strike did not have a mass appeal is that when a statewide bandh was called in Maharashtra around 304 Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) of the total 307 APMCs functioned.
Hence, it can be concluded saying that using the cause of the farmers the opposition parties in the state of Maharashtra tried to fulfill their vested interests. More than satisfying the cause of the needy farmers the strike was more to appease the power struggle.