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MP farmers' stir: Chouhan's fast ends after 1 day, no loan waiver in sight

Breaking his fast with coconut water, Chouhan hinted that there was no scope for loan waivers

BS Web Team | Agencies  |  New Delhi 

shivraj singh chouhan, fast, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan addressing a gathering during his indefinite fast to placate angry farmers at BHEL Dussehra Ground in Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister on Sunday ended his day-old which he started in Bhopal for the restoration of peace in his state rocked by violence during a farmers' agitation.

He announced a series of decisions aimed at the welfare of the state's farmers, including buying of all crops at Minimum Support Prices, purchase of milk according to Amul Dairy's formula, and setting up of farmers markets in Madhya Pradesh to save them from the clutches of middlemen.

The government has decided to set up a Rs 1,000-crore corpus to ensure stabilisation of farm produce prices so as to ensure remunerative prices of crops.

There will be no land acquisition without the consent of affected farmers.

Former chief minister Kailash Joshi offered coconut water to Chouhan for ending his fast at the Dussehra Maidan, in Bhopal.

Chouhan started his fast on Saturday in the wake of the violence that marred the farmers' protest from June 1, which was launched to press their demand for debt waiver and better prices for farm produce.

Madhya Pradesh is the only state in the country where farmers get interest-free loans and are charged less rate of interest on money given for buying seeds and fertilisers, he said.

No loan waiver in sight

Hinting that there is no scope for loan waivers, Chouhan said 80 per cent of the state's farmers took interest-free loans. Only 20 per cent of farmers were loan defaulters and efforts would be made to bring them under the interest-free loan beneficiaries category.

On the same day that Chouhan ended his fast, the Maharashtra government announced a loan waiver for farmers and decided to form a committee to decide the criteria for debt relief, after which cultivators called off their protests.

In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Chouhan said his government had already implemented many of the M S Swaminathan Committee's recommendations.

A Land Use Advisory Committee will be set up according to the panel's recommendations, which will advise the farmers on cultivation-related issues.

The chief minister had earlier said that he lived for the state's people and farmers and that he would also die for them. He said he would ensure farmers don't face any problems.

At least five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur on June 6. Farmer leaders, however, put the number of deaths at eight. One farmer died later of injuries in clashes with police.

The violence by Madhya Pradesh farmers in Mandsaur has spilled over to several other districts, including the Malwa-Nimad area and even reached the state capital.

State ministers and the kin of the farmers killed in the police firing had earlier urged the chief minister to end his fast.

On Saturday night, Chouhan met the family members of the killed farmers. He also met several representatives of farmers' organisations and listened to their problems.

Earlier, both the chief minister and Agriculture Minister Gauri Shankar Bisen had ruled out any loan waiver, following which a group of farmers started a counter-protest opposite Chouhan's podium at the same site.

Congress still calls it 'drama'

With Chouhan ending his indefinite fast, the Congress party on Monday dubbed the chief minister's act as sheer 'drama' and said that despite such tactics, the condition of the farmers remains unchanged.

"The Mandsaur incident is very painful and sad. The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh just put up great drama by observing fast, but the farmers are still suffering from the same problem," Congress leader P L Punia told ANI.

Punia also highlighted how there has been no change in the problems faced by the farmers and proceeded to question Chouhan's intention in starting a fast.

Resonating similar sentiments, another Congress leader Meem Afzal said that Chouhan called off his fast after he discovered it was making no impact whatsoever.

Earlier too, on Saturday, when Chouhan announced that he would be going on an indefinite fast, the Congress had accused him of doing political drama to gain the people's sympathy. 
Congress leader Jeetu Patwari had told ANI, "I do not understand that instead of maintaining law and order which was their responsibility, they fired on farmers. The chief minister is doing these kinds of gimmicks to gain the people's sympathy."

First Published: Mon, June 12 2017. 08:37 IST