Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha has pledged to continue his protest supporting the cause of farmers in Maharashtra, a day after he was released from the police station for leading a march in the connection.
The former Union minister, who has had frequent run-ins with the current BJP leadership, was detained last evening while protesting against the state government's "apathy" towards the farmers of Vidarbha. He was taken to the district police headquarters and later released.
Sinha, a former Union finance minister, is leading a protest by hundreds of cotton and soybean farmers who are demanding compensation after their crops were damaged by pests.
However, the 80-year-old leader refused to leave and sat on a dharna at the police ground, where he spent the night. He said he will not budge from the venue till all demands raised by farmers are met.
"The district administration held talks with us till late last night but didn't accept our demands. We won't budge from this venue till demands of farmers are met," Sinha told reporters.
On Tuesday evening, two opposition Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal also came forward and tweeted in support of senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. The former finance minister has accused the Maharashtra government of his party of apathy towards farmers of the Vidarbha region.
Photos showed the 79-year-old leader sleeping on a wooden cot in the open ground last night, surrounded by farmers.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has tweeted, "I am concerned about @YashwantSinha Ji former Union Finance Minister in jail. I am sending our MP Dinesh Trivedi to meet him. @YashwantSinha is fighting for the cause of farmers. He has our full support."
"Why has Sh Yashwant Sinhaji been arrested? Insane. He shud be released immediately," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said also on Twitter.
Pavan K Verma, who is the national spokesperson of the Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally, said it was "worrying that senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has been arrested in Akola, Maharashtra, on orders of a BJP government, for the crime of protesting against the administration's apathy towards cotton and soybean farmers in Vidarbha."
Sinha accused the BJP of reneging on promises made to farmers while addressing them at the Kapus Soyabean Dhan Parishad organised by Shetkari Jagar Manch in Akola on Sunday,
"Before coming to power, the BJP had promised to give 50% over and above the minimum support price (MSP). But after coming to power, the party forgot the promise,” Sinha said.
The Parishad has sought purchase of all farm produce by the government at an MSP of Rs 50,000 per acre for cotton farmers affected by the pink bollworm disease besides the resolution of issues related to farm insurance and relief to drought-affected villages.
The former union minister said, "My protest is not political. I have had no words with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Neither has he reached out to me, nor have I tried to talk to him.”
He added that he will not get involved in any party politics. "I am fighting for the farmers. I don’t want to get diverted from the issue. It is nothing to do with any politics.”