Yashwant Sinha continues his protest in Akola

Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha

Sinha, along with hundreds of farmers, was protesting against the government for its alleged apathy towards cotton and soybean cultivators outside the Akola district collectors office. "We wont be responsible for what happens", the veteran leader said. Later, the BJP leader and the farmers were released by the police.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took on Twitter to support Sinha's fight against BJP-led Maharashtra government for rights of farmers. "We won't budge from this venue till demands of farmers are met", Sinha told reporters. "There was a discussion [on the farmers' demand with the administration] till late night yesterday [Monday]".

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's media advisor Harshal Pradhan told PTI that Thackeray and Sinha spoke on phone today and discussed farmers' issues.

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Akola Collector Astik Pandey said the authorities concerned have accepted six of the seven demands and requested the agitators to call off the protest. "The government and the administration don't appear to be serious about the farmers' cause".

The farmers, under the aegis of the Kapas Soyabean Dhan Parishad, have sought purchase of all farm produce by the Fadnavis government at the promised MSP, Rs 50,000 per acre compensation for cotton farmers affected by pink boll- worm disease, along with resolution of issues related to farm insurance and relief for drought-affected villages.

Sinha said that since Monday evening, the farmers have been agitating to get concrete assurances from the state government on their demands, including minimum support prices to farmers for their produce.

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Sinha, who arrived here in Vidarbha three days ago to participate in the Kapus Soyabean Dhan (cotton, soyabean, paddy) Parishad, was detained, along with farmes, by police near the collectorate.

Since they chose to stay put, they were provided food, water, blankets and toilet facilities at the protest venue, Akola SP M Rajesh Kalasagar said. Pande said, "Yashwant Sinha and the Shetkari Jagaran Manch were protesting in Akola, they were on a dharna".

In his speech, Sinha accused the ruling party at the centre and in Maharashtra (BJP) of going back on its pre-poll promises of giving 50 percent above the MSP to the farmers. "On gaining power, the party forgot its promise", Mr Sinha said.

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He warned that just as Indian soldiers effected surgical strikes across the borders, the farming community would carry out a "surgical strike" against the government till justice was done.

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