The Shiv Sena has extended support to the farmers’ ‘long march’ currently underway against the Bharatiya Janata Party government, organisers said.
Ajit Nawale of the All India Kisan Sabha, which has organised the march said that senior Sena leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde met protesting long march leaders when it entered neighbouring Thane earlier on Saturday.
The march, which commenced from Nashik on March 6, will culminate in Mumbai on Monday and protestors plan to gherao the Vidhan Bhavan where the Budget session of the state legislature is underway, said organisers.
Nawale said, “Shinde welcomed the protestors in Thane district and extended support to the demands of the farmers. He said he was conveying the message of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Similarly, Abhijit Jadhav, an emissary of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, also met us and got me in touch with the MNS chief over phone. The MNS too has extended support to our demands.”
The march has been organised to protest the failures of the state BJP government on the farm front, including issues like farm loan waivers, remunerative prices for
produce, non-implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission as well as the Forest Rights Act, he said.
Protesting farmers have demanded a change in the plan to link rivers in Nashik, Thane and Palghar to ensure that tribal lands are not submerged and water from the scheme be made available to these areas as well as other drought-prone districts, organisers said.
They said that farmers were also protesting against the state government’s land acquisition for projects like high speed rail and super highways.
“We are demanding an increase in pension schemes for poor peasants and farm workers, compensation for losses due to bollworm and pest attacks and rehauling of the public distribution system,” he said.
Police said that traffic diversions and alternate routes had been set in place for motorists on the Eastern Express Highway through which the march will enter the city
on Sunday morning.
The march will be attended by AIKS national president Ashok Dawale, CPM MLA J P Gavit, state president Kisan Gujar and working president Arjun Ade among others.
Image: Farmers of All Indian Kisan Sabha march from Nashik to Mumbai to gherao Vidhan Bhawan on March 12 demanding a loan waiver, in Thane. Photograph: PTI Photo