On 77th birthday, an ailing Pawar leads anti-government rally

After 37 years, veteran politician and National Congress Party President Sharad Pawar hit the streets on his 77th birthday on Tuesday, leading a massive 'Jan Aakrosh Halla Bol' procession, jointly with Congress and other parties, against the BJP-Shiv Sena government.

The procession, led by an ailing Pawar - who recently underwent a toe surgery - started from Dhanwate National College grounds to the Maharashtra Legislature which has currently assembled here for the Winter Session in the state's second capital.

The procession saw the participation of top Congress leaders like former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, state Congress President Ashok Chavan, and others from the Congress and the NCP, besides over 200,000 farmers and party workers from entire Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra, NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

"In 1980, Pawar had led a similar procession on bicycle from Jalgaon to Nagpur to fight for farmers issues. This time, it's a commemoration of that procession for the cause of farmers who are being denied justice under the present Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena at the centre and in Maharashtra," Malik told IANS.

Later, Azad, Pawar and other senior leaders from the their parties, besides other smaller or regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Peasants & Workers Party, Republican Party of India, et al, addressed the gathering near the legislature building.

Tuesday's procession-cum-rally is part of the ongoing agitation launched by the NCP on December 1, in different parts of the state intended to "condemn and awaken the sleeping state government on its various unfulfilled promises" for the people of Maharashtra.

These include the Minimum Support Price for farmers for agriculture produce, the disbursement of the farm loans waiver package announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in June, and other issues, he added.

-IANS