Pune: Giving a call of ‘Stop committing suicides and join the struggle’, the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), a peasants’ organisation led by MP Raju Shetti, announced that it is undertaking this campaign to alleviate the pains of distressed farmers across the state. Shetti made this announcement in a press conference held in the city on Thursday.
Activists of the sanghatana will go to villages in more than nine districts of the state and urge farmers to take to the streets to raise their demands rather than committing suicide. “We will begin our campaign from May 1 from the village of Dharma Patil, a farmer who recently committed suicide at Mantralaya and will reach out to farmers from nine districts up to May 9,” Shetti said.
“The returns that farmers got from the market two years ago were 20 to 30 pc more than today. In the last two years, GST and demonetisation have adversely affected the farmers further. There is disproportionate GST on agricultural equipment and machinery,” Shetti said, adding, “Compared with the cultivation cost which is rising, the earnings have reduced. This is causing the agrarian distress.”
Mentioning a recent suicide of a farmer in Yavatmal, Shetti said, “The farmer wrote in his suicide letter that he holds the State, Central government, the chief minister and the prime minister responsible for his suicide. His daughter also threatened to file an official complaint against the governments,” Shetti said. “Considering the faulty policies of the current government, it is not wrong to blame the PM for this distress,’’ he said.
Shetti also said that the sanghatana has drafted two private members bills to address the farming crisis. “The bills that we have drafted have provisions to relieve the farmers’ distress and we have already received support from more than 32 opposition parties,” Shetti said.
“We will introduce the bill in Lok Sabha during the monsoon session and will receive support from these parties which are coming together despite differences among them.”
Former minister joins SSS
Subodh Mohite was a former central minister as a Member of Parliament from Ramtek constituency for Shiv Sena. He later joined the Congress and formally joined the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana on Thursday. He also had a brief stint as a member of the Maratha centric political party launched by Vinayak Mete called Shiv Sangram.
Speaking at the occasion, Mohite said, “Swabhimani was the only party in the country with a one point agenda of the betterment of farmers.
“Just like each field has its brand ambassadors like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar, Shetti should be announced as the official brand ambassador for agriculture in the country,” Mohite said.