Gujarat group cries for loan waiver, spills milk

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 05, 2017

Thakore Sena activists pour milk on an Ahmedabad road as part of their protest against the Gujarat government, on Wednesday

OBC leader Thakore asks farmers to cease supply of milk

Gujarat, which led the White Revolution in the 1960s, making India the world’s largest milk producer, on Wednesday saw milk flowing freely on the roads of the poll-bound State.

Police detained hundreds of activists from across Gujarat after they poured thousands of litres of milk on the roads, demanding a waiver of all farmer loans in the State, where essential commodities have seen a sudden spurt in prices. The going rate for coriander stood at ₹200 a kg, and tomato and chilly at ₹100 per kg. There has also been a revival of multiple social agitations that have been lying dormant for months.

The activists dubbed Wednesday’s agitation as “Doodhbandi” and “Doodh Roko”.

The activists, led by Kshatriya Thakore Sena founder Alpesh Thakore were detained across various districts. Thakore, who also doubles up as Convener of the OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch, which was formed nearly two years ago to counter the Hardik Patel-led Patidar agitation, said the agitation would intensify from Thursday.

Supply of fruits, vegetables and foodgrain would be prevented if the farm loans were not waived soon.

Thakore, along with nearly 50 supporters, was detained in Ahmedabad after his group blocked roads and poured hundreds of litres of milk on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway. In various towns, hundreds others were detained by the police. Thakore also appealed to more than 15 lakh milk farmers not to supply milk to dairies for processing.

Interestingly, the Gujarat Congress suspects Alpesh, son of a Congress leader, of leading the ruling BJP’s B-Team to eat into its own votes to compensate for any potential loss caused by the Patel votes. The State Congress was preparing to launch a state-wide farmers’ agitation and organize rallies in August to support loan waivers.

A few weeks ago, his outfit was to launch a political party and contest around 80 of the State’s 182 Assembly seats. By launching this agitation, he sought to take the wind out of the sails of the State Congress, which has invited party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to lead its agitation.

Shankar Chaudhary, Gujarat Minister of State for Health and also Chairman of Banas Dairy, said the State had enough milk stocks and supply will not be affected. He appealed to milk farmers to continue supplying milk to the dairies.

Unrest may trouble BJP

Like last year, the ruling BJP may soon have to grapple with multiple agitations. Both factions of agitating Patels — the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and its rival Sardar Patel Group — have united and announced a revival of its pro-quota agitation.

Meanwhile, the strike of textile and apparel merchants in Surat, protesting against the GST, entered the third day on Wednesday. On Monday, police had lathi-charged them.

On the other hand, even the Petrol Dealers Association said it would not procure fresh stocks of diesel and petrol from various oil marketing companies in view of the uncertainties caused by the implementation of GST.

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Published on July 05, 2017
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