Poonam Mahajan Flags Farmers' Red, Critics Say "Government's Anna Moment"

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Poonam Mahajan Flags Farmers' Red, Critics Say 'Government's Anna Moment'

Poonam Mahajan said she hoped the farmers' protest was not political. (File photograph)

Mumbai: The thousands of flags of protesting farmers that has turned Mumbai and its approach roads red for nearly two days, are seen as having triggered unease in a section of Maharashtra's ruling BJP. The colour red, identified with communists, has raised concerns of a Maoist upsurge. But party lawmaker Poonam Mahajan walked into a controversy today when she tried to flag the issue.

"What has bothered me the most is these farmers holding communist flags. I hope it is not political. And in future, farmers should not be used for these political agendas," said the 37-year-old BJP lawmaker.

The farmer protest, held to push for a complete loan waiver and proper minimum support price, is being spearheaded by the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS. But the organisers have insisted that the protest is for a common cause and not confined to any particular political party.

Critics say the comment indicates an "Anna moment" for the state government - referring to the huge anti-corruption movement led by noted Gandhian Anna Hazare that had taken the Delhi by storm in 2011 and rattled the then Congress government led by Sheila Dikshit.

Ms Mahajan's comment comes days after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's comment that most of the protesters are tribals and therefore cannot be strictly called farmers, had upset the protesters.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had retorted with a tweet, advising him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "not stand on ego"
 
Besides the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Shiv Sena, which is part of Maharashtra's ruling alliance, have extended support to the farmers' demands.

Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray had met the farmers on Saturday. But the farmers are not happy. They want the Sena to speak as representatives of the government and not as a political party.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who met the protesting farmers, exhorted them not to fall for the promises of the BJP government. "They value you only during elections. Farmer suicides haven't stopped in this state yet. Tomorrow the government will try to fob you off with some promises. But the government itself is pauper, so what can it offer you?" Mr Thackeray said.

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