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Lead us, striking farmers urge Raj Thackeray

In a surprise development, a delegation of top farmers’ leaders met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray here on Tuesday and asked them to “lead them”.

The farmers’ leaders comprised activists hailing from Puntamba in Ahmednagar district which the call for the ongoing state-wide farmers’ strike, on since June 1, was given.

The delegation gave a detailed briefing on the six-day long agitation to the MNS leadership, the shutdown call which created a huge impact in rural Maharashtra, their demands, ways and means to intensify their agitation and take it further and related issues.

“Thackeray gave them a patient hearing, cleared all his doubts but has not given any assurance so far,” a MNS leader, requesting anonymity told IANS.

Among other things, the farmers are believed to have expressed their grouse over what they felt was the ruling ally Shiv Sena’s “double role”, their lack of confidence among some political leaders and the absence of an aggressive leader (like Raj Thackeray) to lead them.

The farmers’ leaders, at the meeting held in the Thackeray residence at Shivaji Park this afternoon, included Bandhav Murlidhar Thorat, Babanrao Dhanvate, Shantilal Bhati, Ganesh Jadhav and Rajesh Lute.

Besides Thackeray, MNS leaders like Bala Nandgaonkar, Anil Shidore and Avinash Abhyankar were present.

The latest development came four days after Thackeray on May 2 publicly declared support for the farmers’ strike and hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the “biggest” farm loan waiver package in the state’s history was coming for need and deserving farmers by October 31.

Along with MNS, ruling allies Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, opposition parties like the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Leftist parties and 35 major trade unions, various NGOs, lawyers and other groups have also supported and joined the farmers’ agitation.

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