Shivraj observes fast to restore 'peace', Congress slams him

Shivraj observes fast to restore 'peace', Congress slams him”

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan officially ended his "fast for peace" on Sunday afternoon, which he had begun on Saturday in the wake of farmers' protests and violent clashes in Mandsaur.

Last evening, Chouhan, whose government came under fire because of death of five people in police firing in Mandsaur district as the agitation spread through western Madhya Pradesh, announced a fast for "restoration for peace".

Chouhan had asserted that he would not let the state engulf in violence and would ensure that peace returns.

The occasion turned a show of unity in BJP with senior party leaders, both loyalists and dissidents, seen congratulating him for breaking his 28-hour-long fast, even as state women and child development minister Maya Singh offered a glass of coconut water to Mr Chouhan's wife to end her fast.

Chouhan yesterday met some farmer leaders, but failed to reach a compromise. "Your labour won't go waste", he said, "I know of the bumper crop production that sent the prices crashing". He said the CM should have travelled to Mandsaur to meet the families of the farmers killed in police firing. The Mandsaur-Neemuch region, about 300 km from the state capital Bhopal, became the nerve centre of the gathering storm of farmers' distress. They reportedly pressed for loan waivers and "satisfactory" prices for their farm produce.

"The state government has taken many important decisions in the past years".

"We requested the Chief Minister to call off his hunger strike".

A faction of one of the organisations-the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-has even threatened to cut off supply of milk and vegetables to cities from Sunday if their demand for a CBI probe and an FIR into the police firing in Mandsaur, that claimed five lives, are not met. Though no loan waivers were granted, Chouhan said funds would be lent at zero per cent interest to help farmers repay their debts.

The chief minister further said that when he had fallen asleep "intermittently" during his fast, he had dreamt of the distressed farmers and "kept thinking of ways to solve their problems". "This will surely benefit farmers as well as the Chief Minister", said a farmer.

Preparations began at BHEL Dussehra Maidan soon after Chouhan declared he will observe fast. The opposition has termed Chouhan's fast a gimmick.

Sitting on a rope cot outside her house, her arm fractured and face swollen, Kamalabai Mewade said the escaping protesters had taken a short cut through her compound.

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