Nagpur: As BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi prepares to launch his Maharashtra campaign from Wardha Thursday, farmers plan to submit a list of demands, including "guaranteed representation" for them in parliament and all state legislatures, an activist said here Tuesday.
"Vidarbha and rest of Maharashtra have been ravaged by heavy unseasonal rains and severe hail. But there is nobody to speak on behalf of the farmers. We shall ask Modi to clear the NDA's policy on the same and give representation to the ordinary farmers who till the land," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari told IANS.
The farm activists have requested Bharatiya Janata Party state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to arrange a meeting between farmers and Modi, whose state has also witnessed hundreds of farmland deaths in the past few years.
Tiwari said that in the past 60 years, the so-called farmers representatives in parliament and legislatures are "five star farmers" who have never seen a plough or driven a tractor in the open fields. "That's why the plight of the real farming community has been ignored for over six decades," he said.
"We want Modi to clearly spell out the NDA's agro-economic policies. We shall also demand a guarantee that henceforth, 10 percent of all seats in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all state legislatures shall be reserved for the real farmers and it would be implemented forthwith," Tiwari told IANS.
"After all, agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, so what is the harm in giving only 10 percent of the legislative and parliamentary seats to the actual farmers, instead of the five star variety farmers who are in politics," he contended.
The VJAS chief reiterated that despite the presence of 'wealthy farmers' in parliament and legislatures, over five million farmers of Maharashtra are deprived of basic aid in these trying times since the rains and hail.
"If Modi is unaware, we shall show him how nearly 1.5 million hectares with crops worth around Rs.20,000 crore have been completely destroyed or damaged in 28 of the state's 35 districts. What solutions will he assure to the debt-trapped farmers of Maharashtra and rest of India who are being driven to suicide?" he asked.
The farm activists would also seek replies on NDA's stand on universal food security, whether he supports the market economy and speculative trade in agriculture.
The other questions would be his stand on GM food and BT crops which are playing havoc with Indian agriculture and would the NDA under Modi ban toxic food items and crush the monopolies of multinational corporations in the crucial food and agriculture sectors.
"The farmers have put forth these same queries to Aam Aadmi Party and to the others... since Modi is coming first time to these distraught regions, we are very eager for his response," Tiwari said.