Kisan Long March In Mumbai: Traffic Advisory Released By Police

Protesting farmers

Thane (Maharashtra), Mar 09 (ANI) The Protest led by more than 20,000 farmers of All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), demanding a complete waiver of loans, arrived in Thane on Friday.

The state government reached out to farmers, promising to meet their demands, but farmers' leaders said they will press on with the protest at Vidhan Bhavan on Monday. If they try any tricks on us, we will start a hunger strike here at Azad Maidan. "I am confident that the farmers can expect a positive outcome at tomorrow's meeting". In June a year ago, the Devendra Fadnavis government had declared a Rs34,022 crore loan waiver and capped it at Rs1.5 lakh per farmer's family. However, Ajit Navale, leader of the Communist Party and convenor of the Kisan Sabha, which is spearheading the protest, refused to be drawn into any discussions at this stage and chose to go ahead with the March.

In the backdrop of the agitation, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting of all senior officials on Sunday evening.

Bending backwards, Fadnavis, rushed his emissary, Girish Mahajan, minister for water resources, to meet the farmers and dissuade them from marching to the Vidhan Sabha.

Ajit Nawale of the AIKS, however, dismissed the overture. His usual soybean produce of 12 quintals a season plunged to two quintals due to delayed rainfall; more than 50 per cent of his cotton crop was ravaged by the pink bollworm, and the one possibility of solace that he had in the form of a farm loan waiver did not materialise.

The agitating farmers included men and women. Sena and MNS workers were on streets to welcome the farmers and extend logistical as well as moral support to the march.

"The agrarian crisis is very severe". He had led the farmers' strike past year which led to the blocking of milk and vegetable supplies to the cities for few days.

The protests come at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government has been facing flak from the opposition and ally Shiv Sena for being "anti-farmer" ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly polls. "We are prepared to work with the farmers shoulder to shoulder to achieve their demands", Aditya said.

Congress leaders including state chief Ashok Chavan, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Prithviraj Chavan, and the Nationalist Congress Party's President Sharad Pawar and Dhananjay Munde and Jitendra Awhad declared support to the marchers.

Importantly, the budget session of the state legislature is underway.

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