Pune: MP Raju Shetti, fresh off his success in getting an assurance of a rate of Rs 25 per litre for cow’s milk to farmers through an agitation two weeks back, said that the protesters resort to violence or destruction because government red tape and negligence tests their patience and does not communicate with them. He was speaking during a candid interaction with journalists in the city, organised by the Pune Union of Working Journalists on Tuesday.
In the wake of the ongoing aggressive Maratha agitation causing ruckus across the State, Shetti was reminded of his own agitation, which got violent in some places. He replied saying, “Protests are a way of making your demands heard in a democracy. Our organisation took out a massive protest in Pune on June 29 in a peaceful manner. I do not condone violence, but unless there is a nuisance value, the government and the people don’t pay attention. Government red tape and negligence makes protesters lose patience and they resort to violence.”
Shetti also said that the success of their agitation can only be credited to the women farmers. “There have been many claims to the success of the milk agitation. The government took the draft from us and submitted it to the assembly, trying to undermine our role,” Shetti said, adding, “But we are not interested in credit. All the credit goes to the women farmers, who agreed to the demands and participated actively to make the protest a success.”
“We were also criticised by many for spilling milk on the roads. The State collects more than 1 crore 30 lakh litres of milk. The milk that the farmers spilt was less than 3-4 lakh litres, which is less than 1 per cent. The rest of the milk was distributed to the poor, school children and Warkaris,” Shetti said, adding, “But the media only showed the milk spillage, when 99 per cent of the milk was being utilised for good purposes.”
Shetti also spoke of solutions on farmers’ issues. “The major issues in the farmers’ crisis are the unavailability of national data, lack of processing industry and lack of storage facilities. If the farmers, who have done modernisation on their own, are provided with this, they can compete in the market better if a large single brand private company is started by the State government with its majority in shares to retail milk produce in the State,” he said.
“The current government thinks that it is the only one who knows the final truth. It is adamant and unresponsive. Earlier governments used to resort to repression too,” Shetti said.