Mumbai, (The Hindu): The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the main target on Sunday, as its allies joined Opposition parties in extending support to the thousands of protesting farmers and tribals who walked into the city via Mulund late on Saturday.
The farmers plan to march on the State Legislature complex on Monday. They were undecided on entering South Mumbai in the pre-dawn hours of Monday.
In a statement issued late on Sunday, Joint CP (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar said, “It’s in a fluid state currently. However, we don’t have traffic restrictions or diversions planned for Monday. Updates will be intimated via Twitter and SMS. As of now, students need not worry.”
Senior police officers said both Mumbai Police and the and State Reserve Police Force have been deployed.
The Kisan Morcha, organised by the left-aligned All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), received support from ruling coalition partner Shiv Sena, as well as tthe Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress, Aam Adami Party (AAP).
Ashok Dhavale, national president, AIKS, said, “We are a mass organisation, not a political party. We wouldn’t mind any party supporting our demands. At the same time, this march has put farmers’ issues on the forefront and every political party had to take a note of it.” An AIKS spokesperson said the Kisan Morcha has forced the government to take cognisance of farmer issues.
Lok Sabha MP and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan said, “Congress supports the farmers in their struggle for their legitimate demands. The Chief Minister must not be stubborn and be ready for discussion and accept the demands.”
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray visited the protesting farmers on Sunday. “I promise you today, every Shiv Sainik will support this movement in every way possible. No matter what our [political] colour, we are from the land. Despite being from different parties, our demands are the same.” He added that the Sena doesn’t believe in karz maafi (loan waiver), but in karz mukti (being loan-free). “Uddhav Thackeray has sent me to assure you that we support your cause, and will stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for your rights.”
NCP State president Sunil Tatkare reassured farmers of party chief Sharad Pawar’s interest in their welfare. “We completely support the farmers’ march. We had organised a Halla Bol rally to press for farmers’ rights, but this government didn’t listen.” .
AAP too joined the march on Sunday, saying the government shouldn’t have waited till the very end to initiate talks with farmers. “These farmers have walked for over 200 km. Had the government really wanted to solve the issues, it should have initiated discussions much earlier. We condemn the State government’s behaviour in this matter,” Dhananjay Shinde, spokesperson, AAP, said.
Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said his party stands firmly with the farmers. “We’ll ensure that the government takes cognisance. Calling farmers for a meeting is an afterthought by this government.” He said all demands will be raised by the Congress in the Assembly.
Long March reaches city
As farmers wound their way through the city, politicians from several parties joined them in support.
While PWD Minister Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena met farmers at Mulund, NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad met them at Bhandup. Supporters of the Left-affiliated CITU and Prakash Ambedkar's Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh welcomed the protesters and joined them. The farmers also received a warm welcome from ordinary citizens.
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