NEW DELHI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra) who had been consistent over the years---since he became Chief Minister in October 2014-- in refusing to talk to agitating farmers was forced to eat his words, and hold lengthy meetings to address their immediate concerns this time around.

This is being seen as a major victory by the kisan organisation and the political parties who had virtually united against the BJP on this front. As a senior leader of the Kisan Sabha told The Citizen, “the CM refused to talk to the farmers consistently despite huge agitations, but now he capitulated soon after declaring he would not negotiate.”

As P.Sainath said, the morning newspapers on the completion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three years in office carried huge advertisements lauding the government for its achievements on the agricultural front while the news inside spoke of five farmers (later increased to 8) being killed in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh in police firing.

One Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan went on fast, while the other Fadnavis rushed to hold a meeting with the farmers representatives as it became clear that the farmers patience was over, and the stir was going to spread across the states include Rajasthan and Gujarat, both BJP ruled as well. Patidar leader Hardik Patel landed in Delhi to meet with senior political leaders and work out a common strategy, as all Opposition parties including ally in government Shiv Sena, came together on the agrarian front.

Why did the BJP capitulate. The Citizen puts together four basic reasons after speaking with senior Kisan leaders and Opposition leaders:

1. The agitation this time around spread almost immediately from Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh, with Rajasthan and Gujarat farmers giving almost immediate notice. It was made clear to the government that had resisted talks for three years that it could do so no more without seriously aggravating the situation against itself.

2. The police firing by CM Chouhan that took eight lives deepened the fissures. And the agitation threatened to become totally violent, as the farmers united under different banners. Patidar leader Hardik Patel also entered the picture;

3. The NDA showed signs of cracking, with all parties disturbed. The Shiv Sena joined the Opposition in spearheading the stir in Maharashtra, even as NCP, Left, Aam Aadmi Party, Congress and others joined hands along with the farmer outfits in what was clearly threatening to become a nationwide stir;

4. The government is looking at elections in most of these states, including Maharashtra that is seriously contemplating advancing the polls to coincide with the Lok Sabha elections if required and Fadnavis realised that the agitation this time had spread into the more prosperous parts of the state as well;

5. The last has coincided with increasing urban support for the farmers during this agitation across Maharashtra. As kisan leaders themselves felt, the city dwellers despite the inconvenience of higher milk and vegetable prices were sympathetic, and even more so after the killing of the farmers in MP. This clearly worried Fadnavis and the BJP, despite trying to get the produce from neighbouring Gujarat to neutralise the impact of the agitation in the urban centres.

Fadnavis has now agreed to increase the price of milk to at least 70 per cent in favour of the farmers. He has also agreed to waive loans, a major decision for which a Committee has been formed with representatives of kisan outfits. This committee will work to exclude categories such as lawyers, government servants, merchants, doctors and others who have availed of bank loans under the agricultural quota. He has also agreed to instruct banks to give loans even to the defaulters. He has also agreed to release those arrested during the entire period of the agitation.

The farmers have called off the stir, giving till July 25 to the government to implement the demands.

Meanwhile view expert P.Sainath on the currrent agrarian situation: