Sinha continues sit-in; discusses farmers’ issues with Maha CM

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BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha, who was detained here on Monday while leading a protest by farmers, on Wednesday continued his sit-in in support of demands raised by cultivators of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to him over phone.

The former Union minister, who has had frequent run-ins with the current BJP leadership, was detained on Monday evening while protesting outside the district collector’s office against the state government’s “apathy” towards the farmers of Vidarbha.

He was taken to the district police headquarters and later released. However, the 80-year-old leader refused to leave and sat on a dharna at the police ground and said he would not budge from the venue till all demands raised by farmers are met.

Sinha had said the government does not appear serious about solving the problems being faced by agriculturists.

“Fadnavis and Sinha spoke over phone this morning and discussed farmers demands,” an official said.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had spoken to the BJP veteran over phone and discussed farmers’ issues on Tuesday.

The district administration claimed that a majority of the demands, including include compensation to cotton farmers for losses incurred due to pink bollworm infestation, action against companies manufacturing “bogus” bio-technologically modified seeds and 100 per cent payout for crop losses to moong, udad and soyabean farmers, have been accepted.

The farmers are also demanding that bank officials and administration execute loan waivers by personally visiting gram panchayats.

The other demands are uninterrupted power supply to agricultural pump sets, removal of “unjust” conditions from the gold mortgage waiver scheme of the government for farmers, and purchase of all farm produce at MSP by NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India).

“Except for the last one (related to MSP), which is a call to be taken by the Central government, we have accepted all six demands and have requested the protesters, led by Sinha to call off their stir,” Collector Astik Kumar Pandey had said.

Sinha said the “excuse” about NAFED purchase is not valid as the BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have been procuring farm produce through their own systems.

“Why can’t the Maharashtra government (led by the BJP) then do it?” the former Union finance minister asked.