Bharatiya Janata Party MP Poonam Mahajan on Monday claimed that the Maharashtra farmers’ protest was propelled by urban Maoists. “Tribals in Maharashtra have been captured by urban Maoism,” said Mahajan, according to News18.

Mahajan alleged that Maoists were misguiding the farmers and infiltrating their Long March. The lawmaker from Mumbai said that she hoped the farmers’ protest was not political. “I respect these farmers but what has bothered me the most is that these farmers are holding communist flags,” said Mahajan, according to NDTV. “I hope farmers aren’t being used for political agendas.”

Earlier on Friday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Maharashtra Assembly that 95% of the protestors were Adivasis and not farmers. He had added that the government has been in touch with the protest organisers since early March and that the state was positive towards fulfilling their demands.

What the farmers want

Around 30,000 protesting farmers of Maharashtra have been demanding a complete waiver of loans and electricity bills and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations on providing minimum support prices and safeguarding the interests of small farmers. On Monday, they reached South Mumbai’s Azad Maidan after a 180-km journey on foot from Nashik that began on March 6.

A delegation led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha will meet Chief Minister Fadnavis soon. The farmers want a written assurance from the government that their demands will be met.

The Maharashtra government had started disbursing the loan waiver amounts to farmers’ accounts in October 2017, four months after it had announced the scheme. The move was expected to benefit nearly 89 lakh farmers, but was plagued by technical difficulties.

The protestors have received support from Opposition parties and the Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra but is often at loggerheads with it. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray also extended support to the farmers. The Aam Aadmi Party is also backing the farmers on the march.