As the violent agrarian unrest entered its tenth day in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Saturday began his indefinite fast at the Dusshera Maidan here for restoration of peace and promised profitable prices to farmers for their produce.
"I know of the bumper crop production that has sent the prices crashing down in the state. I know your (farmers) problems," he said addressing a gathering, including cultivators, here.
"The state government stands firmly with the farmers. We are going to buy the farm produce and give profitable prices for it," he assured.
The farmers are, among other things, demanding satisfactory prices for their farm produce. Their stir turned violent when five persons died in police firing, while six others were injured on Tuesday in Mandsaur district.
"We have already bought huge quantity of onions at Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 8 per kg. Each onion of farmers will be bought," Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
"Your labour won't go waste."
"We are going to buy different varieties of pulses at MSP," the chief minister said.
Chouhan said his government was pro-farmer and recalled efforts underway to make farming a profitable business in MP.
He said the irrigation facility has increased manifold and due to abundant water, farmers were reaping a rich harvest.
The BJP leader also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trying hard to make agriculture a profitable venture.
Chouhan said the government had extended Rs 4,800 crore as relief amount to farmers when their soyabean crop was destroyed last year. Similarly, Rs 4,400 crore went as crop insurance compensation sum last year.
Earlier, the chief minister, clad in a kurta-pyjama and a Nehru jacket, with wife Sadhana on his side, commenced his indefinite fast around 11 AM at a 'pandal' erected in the BHEL Dusshera Maidan after former chief minister Kailash Joshi put a 'tilak' on his forehead.
As the CM entered the venue, his supporters shouted "Kisan ka Samman hai, Shivraj Singh Chouhan hai, Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Bharat Mata ki Jai".
The Opposition Congress dubbed Chouhan's fast as a "nautanki" (drama or empty theatrics).
"Chouhan should tell people whether his so-called fast was a 'nautanki' or an act of repentance for his misdeeds that set the state on fire," state Congress chief spokesman K K Mishra said.
"Though he is trying to send a message that he is doing 'Gandhigiri' (Gandhian way of protest), it is not so. He neither sat beneath the statue of 'Bapu' nor garlanded Mahatma's statue before launching his nautanki," Mishra said.
"After all, against whom has he started his fast at Dussehra Maidan? He should remember that (demon king) Ravana is burnt every year at the Dussehra Maidan. His Nautankibaji won't work as he has done such drama in the past against the UPA-2 government," Mishra added.
Under fire over the farmers' unrest spiralling out of control, the chief minister had last evening announced to go on a fast for "restoration for peace" in the state.
He had also said that the agitation had turned "anarchic", and appealed to farmers to come to Dussehra Maidan and have a dialogue with him.
"I won't sit in my office at Mantralaya (Secretariat)... (but sit at) Dussehra Maidan and do all work from there," he said, adding that those instigating the violence would not be spared.