It seems as if the season of countless agitations and protests has arrived in Maharashtra. If one takes a look at news papers, news television or social media one will see dozens of pictures of protests and agitations.
Teacher’s associations, worker’s groups, doctor’s unions, student’s groups everybody is agitating out on the roads in cities. But two big agitations that the state saw in the past few weeks have been the biggest and unprecedented once.
Firstly the farmers strike that happened in the month of May and June in Maharashtra, and secondly the Maratha community protests that have continued in the state since past few months. The rally taken out by the Maratha groups in Mumbai on last Wednesday was a mammoth one to say the least.
The demands of the farmers who were protesting are known to all and the demands put forth by the Maratha community are also well known to everybody.
There have been many agitations by farmers in the past but in the history of Maharashtra for the first time farmers in the state launched a strike and boycotted work, they came out on the roads and spilled thousands of liters of milk on the roads, blocked the transport of food products going to cities and then finally got into negotiations with the state government.
This agitation was not led by any political party and did not have any known leader. So Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis got into talks with some leaders of the farmers who seemed relatively faceless. Then suddenly came the announcement that farmer’s demands have been met and the strike has been withdrawn.
Now two months after these developments took place. We see in the state of Maharashtra that farmers plight is even worse compared to what it was earlier.
The benefits of the so called loan waiver that the government announced have not reached most of the farmers, crop insurance procedure has become very tedious and most farmers had to spend seven or eight hours to fulfill the conditions related to these schemes and tragedies like farmers suicides continue all over the state. So the assurances the government gave the farmers have turned out to be just words written on water!
Is a similar thing happening with the Maratha community demands? The community leaders and the organizers of Wednesday’s Mumbai rally have to think about this hard. Announcement about government agreeing to the demands of the Maratha community were made at Azad maidan by the speakers and the crowd rejoiced. But many expressed skepticism and claimed that the government’s assurances seem hollow!
One of the main problems in both cases of farmer’s strike as well as the Maratha rallies has been that the organizers and leadership has remained faceless. Some political parties and leaders did try to come and be part of these agitations but they were rejected by the participants.
An agitation which is motivated with clear demands and goals cannot have faceless leadership. The reason CM Devendra Fadnavis has been able to divert the pressure emanating from the farmers strike as well as the Maratha rallies happening in the state is that both these activities lack some leadership that has a strong face.
Whether it is an agitation from financial demands by a set of workers or whether it’s a political agitation, history shows that these activities succeed only when there is a clear and strong leader. Faceless leadership cannot take these agitations anywhere!