Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha pledges to fight for Maha farmers

Yashwant Sinha detained briefly for leading anti-government farmer protest in Maharashtra

Accusing the Maharashtra government of apathy towards farmers of the Vidarbha region, Sinha told media that he is not going to end the protest till all the demands of the farmers are met.

Mr. Sinha, who was detained by the police during a farmers' protest march on Monday, was released by the police after a few hours.

"We were present at the district office on Monday regarding some of our demands".

Asserting that he will continue to press for the farmers' rights, Sinha said, "I will not get involved in party politics".

The former Union finance minister said the government does not appear serious about solving problems being faced by agriculturists.

"After the organisers made it clear that they would continue their agitation plans, I instructed police to open up the police hall, arrange for food for around 250 farmers, which they declined, and give mattresses and quilts as the weather here is quite chilly", Pandey told IANS this evening. "We wont be responsible for what happens", the veteran leader said.

Sinha added that the group will further discuss their strategies.

Pandey said the former Union minister was insisting that FIRs be lodged against bogus Bt cotton companies.

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The district administration, however, claimed a majority of the demands raised by farmers have been accepted. But our demands were not accepted, which is why we are continuing our protest.

The former union minister and farmers are demanding compensation for damage crops.

This was his second visit to Akola where he has spoken against the alleged anti-farmer and anti-people policies of the BJP government at the Centre as well as in the western state.

Sinha added: "So despite the SP's announcement that he has released us, we chose to remain and we'll go wherever the police takes us, but unless our demands are accepted, our protest will continue".

Sinha said the "excuse" about NAFED purchase is not valid as the BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have been procuring farm produce through their own systems. "Why can't the Maharashtra government then do it?"

Later, some police officials, apparently acting on humanitarian grounds, offered Sinha and the others some tea and light refreshments, but an official from the district collectorate reportedly objected and pulled them up (the police) for their gesture.

Since they made a decision to stay put, they were provided food, water, blankets and toilet facilities at the protest venue, Akola SP M Rajesh Kalasagar said.

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