June 11, 2017 saw the historic victory of the peasantry of Maharashtra, after a 10 day novel and unprecedented strike, backed by a massive Maharashtra Bandh on June 5. Under pressure of the unity and struggle of the peasantry and the impending call for a militant state-wide Rail Roko and Rasta Roko struggle on June 13, the BJP-Shiv Sena state govt represented by the high-powered committee of five cabinet ministers today held talks with the Coordination Committee of Peasant Organisations in Mumbai.
After strenuous negotiations for over three hours, the govt agreed to the following demands:
1. Complete loan waiver to the peasantry, subject to certain criteria to exclude the rich sections. These criteria will be decided within one month by a 10 member committee comprising 5 representatives of the Kisan organisations and 5 of the state government.*
2. Implementation of loan waiver to all peasants holding less than 5 acres of land with immediate effect and new loans to be given to them immediately for the coming sowing season.
3. Substantial increase in the price of milk to be paid to the peasantry as per the formula that 70 per cent of the selling price of milk will go to the peasant and 30 per cent to the processing institute for its expenses.
4. CM will take a delegation of peasant organisations to the PM to insist on the Swaminathan Commission recommendation of fixing MSP to cover cost of production plus 50 per cent profit.
5. State govt will give written reply to other points in the memorandum.
6. Police cases in this struggle will be immediately withdrawn.
The peasant organisations were represented in the talks by Raju Shetty, MP, Bachhu Kadu, MLA, Jayant Patil, MLC, Raghunathdada Patil, Dr Ashok Dhawale (AIKS), Convenor of the committee Dr Ajit Nawale (AIKS), Namdev Gavade and others. The state government was represented by cabinet ministers Chandrakant Patil, Divakar Ravte, Pandurang Fundkar, Girish Mahajan and Subhash Deshmukh. If the criteria of the loan waiver are not satisfactorily decided before the state assembly session begins on July 24, it was declared that the Committee will re-launch the struggle from July 26, the birth anniversary of renowned social reformer Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj.
This victory has been hailed far and wide by the peasantry of Maharashtra and the media has also welcomed it profusely in lead headlines. The significant point is that the AIKS was widely acknowledged as the focal point of this remarkable struggle and it took the lead in uniting all other peasant organisations in the state to successfully overcome the vile attempt by the government and some other forces to break the peasant strike on June 3.
Ashok Dhawale, Joint Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha