Mumbai, Dec 5: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha has been hogging the limelight for repeatedly protesting against his own party and its top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Monday, when news reports came in that the former finance minister was detained by the Maharashtra police in Akola while leading a farmers' agitation, political observers suggested that it was a "punishment" for Sinha for repeatedly criticising the Modi government.
According to reports, Sinha and the protesting farmers were detained for a brief period and were released later by the police.
Maharashtra; Yashwant Sinha detained while leading a farmers' march in Akola, yesterday; later released. pic.twitter.com/nDzIRlpBhQ— ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2017
Maharashtra is under the rule of BJP. It's a huge embarrassment for the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis government to watch a protest led by a senior BJP leader in his home turf, pointed a political pundit.
"Thus it was not a big surprise that Sinha was detained and released later by the police in Maharashtra. Actually, the surprising thing is that Sinha is yet to be removed from the BJP even after causing so much disdain to the party," added the political pundit.
Sinha and several others were detained by police in Maharashtra's Akola while protesting against the government's "apathy" towards farmers of the Vidarbha region, a senior official said.
"We detained Sinha and around 250 farmers outside the district collectorate as per provisions of section 68 of the Bombay Police Act," Akola district Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kalasagar told PTI.
Sinha, along with hundreds of farmers, was protesting against the government for its alleged apathy towards cotton and soybean cultivators outside the Akola district collector's office.
"We are trying to convince Sinha that the government is sensitive towards farmers issues. We have told him that if he wishes, he is free to leave," district collector Asit Kumar Pandey told PTI.
Pandey said the former Union minister was insisting that FIRs be lodged against bogus Bt cotton companies. The government has already taken strict action and filed FIRs against six such companies, he said.
Speaking to reporters, Sinha said he would stay put even if police allowed him to leave.
"I wish to tell the police, district administration, and the state government that if we are formally arrested and released and they think that we will go home, then they are under the wrong impression," Sinha said.
"You are seeing the mood of farmers now. We won't be responsible for what happens," the veteran leader said.
Sinha, who joined the procession of farmers to the district collector's office to present a memorandum of demands, began the protest march by placing boll-worm infected cotton crop at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Gandhi-Jawahar garden at Akola.
Addressing farmers at a programme called--Kapus Soyabean Dhan Parishad--(cotton, soyabean and paddy rally), organised by Shetkari Jagar Manch at Akola on Sunday, Sinha had accused the BJP of reneging on promises made to farmers.
"Before coming to power, the BJP had promised to give 50 percent over and above the minimum support price (MSP).
But after coming to power, the party forgot the promise," Sinha said.
"Just as Indian soldiers carried out surgical strikes across border, the farmers will also carry out a surgical strike against the government till justice has been done," Sinha said.
The Parishad has sought purchase of all farm produce by the government at the Minimum Support Price, Rs 50,000 per acre compensation for cotton farmers affected by pink bollworm disease, besides resolution of issues related to farm insurance and relief to drought-affected villages.
There were reports that Nana Patole, the BJP MP representing Bhandara-Gondia constituency in Vidarbha, would attend Monday's protest but he kept away.
Sinha has been continuously attacking the Modi government over the demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Sinha has even asked finance minister Arun Jaitley to quit his post over failure to fix the Indian economy and further causing harm to it because of the demonetisation and GST.
Criticising the BJP for detaining Sinha, Janata Dal (United) leader Pavan K Varma tweeted, "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 admin's apathy towards cotton and soybean farmers in Vidarbha."
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 admin’s apathy towards cotton and soybean farmers in Vidarbha.— Pavan K. Varma (@PavanK_Varma) December 5, 2017
In fact, JD (U) is in alliance with the BJP in Bihar, where Nitish Kumar is currently the chief minister.