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Farmers siege dents Chouhan's 'all is well' image

Tuesday December 21, 2010 06:54:38 PM,  Shahnawaz Akhtar, IANS

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Bhopal: The massive farmers agitation here since Sunday, which saw nearly one lakh farmers laying siege to Bhopal over their 183 demands, has come as an embarrassment to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his 'all is well' image just as he has completed five years in office.

As around one lakh farmers gathered at Priyadarshini Park here from Sunday midnight onwards and blocked all roads leading to the chief minister's residence with tractors, Chouhan could not use his main gate to exit his house to attend scheduled programmes. He had to embarrassingly use the back door.

"This is really embarrassing for the chief minister as he was using back doors to attend functions," a government official said requesting anonymity.

The protesting farmers had given a 183-point charter of demands to the government under different heads, including proper power supply in rural pockets, good value for their crops and good quality of fertilizers.

The incident also indicated a failure of the intelligence as to how such a large number of people gathered suddenly in the state capital right at the chief minister's door.

Also, the farmers had gathered under the banner of Bharti Kisan Sangh, an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and considered a supporter of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh.

Chouhan, who takes pride in saying that he is a 'farmer', had become the only chief minister of the saffron brigade to complete five years in office Nov 29. And the fact that the mass protest came from one of the BJP's affiliated groups is bound to cause more discomfiture to him.

On the first day, Chouhan could not say much more than the staple statement that his officials are looking into the matter.

The farmers' siege also made life hell for Bhopal residents.

"This is ridiculous... we have never seen such a hostage-like condition of the city. Where is the administration or government? This is the second day... my wife has to face difficulties in bringing our daughter from school, they have to walk three kilometres," said Javed Qutubi, a resident of Professors Colony.

The farmers called off their agitation Tuesday after the government accepted 50 of their 183 demands.

Talks between state minister and spokesperson Narottam Mishra and a group of agitating farmers under the Bharti Kisan Sangh banner at Ballabh Bhavan ended the deadlock.

Mishra announced that a government order accepting the demands would be issued soon, while farmer leader Shiv Kumar said they would withdraw the agitation.






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