Maharashtra, Mar 12: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday spoke out on the All India Kisan Sabha Long March in Maharashtra and said that it was a nationwide issue. He said it wasn’t an issue restricted to Maharashtra farmers alone but extended to the farmers all over India. The Congress supremo also said that farmers across India were suffering under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule.

Apart from opposition parties, Shiv Sena, a partner in the ruling BJP-led coalition, too, has come out in support of the agitation. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has agreed to meet the farmers’ representative at 1 pm today.

Over 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra embarked on a 180-km foot long march from Nashik on March 6 to press for their demands and had decided to lay siege to the Maharashtra legislature on March 12, but later changed their plan to camp at Azad Maidan instead to minimise inconvenience to Mumbaikars.

President of the state council of AIKS Kisan Gujar said, “Over 20,000 farmers from other parts of the state will join on Monday,” adding that the farmers were also protesting against land acquisition for projects such as high-speed railway and super-highways. The farmers, who are led by Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) are demanding, among other things, proper implementation of the Maharashtra government’s loan waiver scheme.

The major demands of the ongoing agitation include strict implementation of Forest Rights Act within a specific time frame, implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission recommendations including minimum support price  (MSP) to all crops at 50 percent above cost of production, preventing forced acquisition of agriculture land for infrastructural projects, ensuring monthly pension to farmers and strict implementation of MNREGA.