The strike, initially declared in Madhya Pradesh, spread to Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala.
The farmer organizations in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bhopal decided to launch “Gaon Bandh” (Village closure) for 10 days starting from Saturday. The strike is basically about waving the loans of farmers. It might be a strategy for BJP to look bad in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Reports from states suggest the strike has not made a significant impact on day one. Markets for farm produce may be affected in the next few days as participating farmer organizations are likely to coordinate their actions. Balbir Singh Rajewal, the president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said farmers would stop supplying vegetables and milk to the cities. “The impact will be visible in the next few days,” he added.
The strike is being coordinated by the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM) with local partners in other participating states, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
In Maharashtra, the impact of the strike was palpable in pockets. Road blockades were put up on both Pune-Bengaluru and Pune-Nashik highways.
Areas that saw blockage of supplies include Khed-Shivapur in Pune district as well as parts of Satara, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik, and Aurangabad districts.
The farmers are demanding a total loan waiver of all outstanding loans, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for the agriculture sector, free power supply for pumps, and higher prices for fuel ethanol purchases.
“We want the government to accept all our demands. Until then, we will continue to block the supply of fruits, vegetable, and milk,” said Sandeep Gidde Patil, a member of the RKM.
When asked about the agitation, agriculture secretary SK Pattanayak said, “We haven’t received any memorandum from any farmer organizations (on their demands). If we do, we will certainly respond to them.”