The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has in a powerful statement congratulated the farmers of Maharashtra for the victorious Kisan Long March. AIKS began a massive Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai on March 12, 2023 on a 15-point charter of demands, the most prominent among which was remunerative price particularly for onions and also for cotton, soya-bean, tur (arhar), green gram, milk etc.
The March which comprised a large number of Adivasi peasants, were also demanding the stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act and other land rights related issues. Other demands related to loan waiver, electricity, crop insurance, increase in old-age pensions, scheme workers wages, etc.
On March 16, Thursday last, a 16-member AIKS delegation led by Dr Ashok Dhawale, J P Gavit, ex-MLA, Dr Ajit Nawale, Vinod Nikole, MLA, Dr Uday Narkar, Dr D L Karad, Umesh Deshmukh and others met the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Deputy CM and six other ministers with several top officials at the state assembly in Mumbai. The State Government was forced to accede to most of the 15-point charter of demands. Most importantly a subsidy of Rs. 350 per quintal for onion was agreed upon to be given. It was also agreed that loans of over 88,000 farmers who did not benefit from earlier loan waivers would be waived. A Committee for ensuring forest rights was also agreed upon with two representatives of the AIKS – J P Gavit, ex-MLA and Vinod Nikole, MLA, included in it. Old-age pension and honorarium of scheme workers was increased significantly.
The AIKS had refused to withdraw the Kisan Long March and decided to sit-in at Vashind, District Thane till such time as the Minutes of the decisions of this meeting are not placed on the floor of the State Assembly and instructions about their implementation are not sent out to all district officials. In the face of such a resolute decision by the AIKS, the Chief Minister was forced on March 17, to announce all the decisions in the Legislative Assembly. The AIKS has thereafter received a copy of the decisions and the Government has also issued the same to the concerned authorities. In the wake of this significant victory, the Kisan Long March has been withdrawn on March 18.
The AIKS-led Kisan Long March in 2018 had caught the imagination of people and had instilled confidence in all democratic sections by forcing the then BJP-led State Government to accept almost all demands. In 2023, yet again the poor peasants, a large number of them Adivasis, with women leading from the front, have forced the SS-BJP to bow down and accept the demands.
The statement issued by Dr Ashok Dhawale, president AIKS and Vijoo Krishnan, secretary also asserts that this victory in Maharashtra will inspire militant struggles against the anti-people BJP Government and its pro-corporate policies. Coming just a fortnight before the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally at Delhi, it will also inspire the working class and the peasantry to come out in bigger numbers in all forthcoming struggles.