Will give my life for farmers: Shivraj
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday began his indefinite fast here "until peace is restored" and said that he will give his life also for the farmers.
"We will help the farmers in any way we can, decisions will be taken and if need be, I will lay down my life for them," he said.
"The state government has taken many important decisions in the past years. We have made provisions for the farmers to get loans at zero interest rates and even to deposit Rs 90,000 over a loan of Rs one lakh for fertilisers and seeds," Chouhan said during his fast at BHEL's Dussehra Maidan here.
"We have always stood with the farmers during distressful times. When soyabean crop was destroyed, we distributed compensation amounting to Rs 4,800 crore while Rs 4,400 crore was distributed as insurance. Due to a good yield of onion, we bought it at Rs 6 per kg last year and Rs 8 per kg this year. Toor and moong dal (pulses) are being bought at agreed upon prices," he added.
Expressing grief over the escalating farmers' agitation, the Chief Minister said that he is open to discussions with them and is sitting on the ground as he understands their pain.
Farmers' protests that started in the state on June 1, demanding better prices for their produce and debt relief, turned violent on June 6 when five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur. The violence has spilled over to several other districts, including the Malwa-Nimad area and even reached the state capital. Angry farmers have been blocking roads, vandalising property and setting vehicles on fire.
After Chouhan reached Dussehra Maidan, he addressed his Cabinet and other leaders and also held a discussion with them. Chouhan was greeted by the ex-Chief Minister of the state Kailash Joshi, who wished him well. Chouhan's wife Sadhna Singh is also accompanying him on the fast.
He will also run his government from the venue, an official said. Preparations began at BHEL Dussehra Maidan soon after Chouhan declared he will observe a fast. A temporary residence has been set up, with heavy deployment of forces at the venue.
"He was accompanied by the Principal Secretary and Secretary. The Chief Minister will hold discussions on different schemes launched by the government, including 'School Chale Hum', he would also review the Kharif produce, issues related to Hamidia Hospital and will primarily be talking to the farmers," sources in the administration said.
The Opposition has slammed Chouhan's decision to go on fast. "Instead of indulging in gimmicks Chouhan should seriously address the problems of the farmers," a Congress official said.
Congress state president Arun Yadav said: "This fasting is a farce being played out by Chouhan. He has never considered visiting the families of the dead farmers in Mandsaur and also the houses of the 25 persons who died in a blast at a fireworks factory."