MUMBAI: Farmers fade into insignficance when it comes to Bollywood deaths as the media and the ruling elite have little time for the acute agrarian distress that continues to stalk rural India. In some states like Uttar Pradesh the farmers have little alternative to their misery, but in others like Maharashtra there is an active kisan movement growing stronger by the day. This despite the BJP-Shiv Sena governments refusal to keep promises made and the increasing number of suicides with nearly 2500 farmers committing suicide between January-October 2017.

Maharashtra, after Rajasthan, has become the seat of a strong peasant movement with kisan organisations coming together to form a joint coordination committee representative of all. Huge protests that would have shaken less callous governments have been held in the state over the past couple of years, with 2017 bringing the Fadnavis government to its knees. At least in terms of platitudes to make the farmers call off the stir with five Ministers deputed from the state government to parley with the coordination committee.

The state government, in a bid to stave off the agitation, promised to set aside a budget to waive loans, and fix remunerative prices as per the two main demands of the farmers bodies. Rs 34,000 was the budget announced late last year. However, as All India Kisan Sabha national president Ashok Dhawale told The Citizen. “So many conditions have been attached to this that not even 10 per cent of farmers will get the benefit.” The government is not prepared to budge on this despite repeated petitions. No progress has been made on the payment of remunerative prices as well.

In what promises to be unprecedented action, the farmers will now be coming together from different parts of Maharashtra to participate in a long march from Nashik to Mumbai starting on March 6. Tuesday. This will cover a distance of nearly 200 jm and will reach Mumbai on March 12 when the farmers will move to gherao the state Assembly. Lead by kisan leaders the march will “denounce the BJP state government for betraying all its assurances given to the peasantry during the last two years” on the above issues as well as the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and the implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

Although the national media, obsessed with urban glamour has not found time to write about the farmers agitation it has attracted huge participation in Maharashtra. Some of the actions in recent years include: two day siege at Nashik in March 2016, coffin rally at Thane in May 2016, gheraos and region wise peasant demonstrations, 11 day farmers strike in June last year, and again in August with at least two lakh farmers blocking the highways.