Maharashtra govt announces loan waiver to farmers, agitation called off

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Rahul Gandhi Gave a Good Try Slams BJP

What is being feared is the manifestation of anger against the failure of the UP government to fulfil its commitment to waive agricultural loans of as many as 86 lakh poor farmers.

Farmers were inspired by PM Narendra Modi's promise to waive debt in Uttar Pradesh, a pledge made in February during that state's election campaign. While the small farmers will get immediate relief, a committee will be set up to finalise the loan waiver conditions for the others.

The nearly deliberate impoverishment of the agriculture sector by successive governments, which has translated into poor returns to farmers, and the recent loan waiver decision by Uttar Pradesh appear to have triggered massive protests in many states, including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The Samiti has deferred its plan to organise protest against the government till July 25.

A deadline stipulated by the farmers groups, failing which they have threatened another round of intensified stir.

The Kisan Kranti's Steering Committee held a marathon meeting on the eve of the talks with the government, with some members boycotting the meeting alleging "political motives". A delegation under the chief minister will meet the Central authorities to demand the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report.

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Patil said that the government has agreed to accept some of the demands of the farmers after a positive discussion on the issue.

Ruling ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti said they reached a "common ground on most issues and it's a huge victory for the farmers". Instead we had demanded that they should take this decision with immediate effect as they agreed to our demands. "These farmers would be eligible for fresh credit from tomorrow", he added.

Another farmer leader, Raghunathdada Patil, said the minister had assured them that "all loans" of farmers will be waived. This is a historic step and small and marginal farmers will derive benefit out of it.

The strike by farmers mostly from rural Maharashtra, which lasted more than a week, led to lower supply of vegetables and fruits by Agriculture Produce Marketing Corporation (APMCs) to Mumbai, resulting in a steep rise in the prices of perishable goods. The panel also comprises senior minister Diwakar Raote of the Shiv Sena, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Cooperatives Minister Subhash Deshmukh and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan.

Talking to media persons after the first round of talks, Shetti said, "The State Government has accepted two of our major demands - loan waiver and clearing of 7/12 land records".

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