Bhubaneswar: After Mumbai, it was the turn of the Odisha assembly to face protests by farmers as thousands of them launched a dharna in front of it on Monday.

The farmers are demanding a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs5,000 per quintal. They are also seeking a pension of Rs5,000 per month for the state’s 36 lakh farmers. There is no pension for farmers at present in the state.

The farmers, who came from different districts of the state under the banner of Navnirman Krushak Sangathan (NKS), demanded that they be paid pension on attaining 60 years of age. “The agitation will intensify and reach the grassroot level if the state government fails to fulfil our demands," NKS convenor Akshay Kumar said.

Its advisor, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, has recently joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal and has filed his nomination for the Rajya Sabha elections. Earlier, Patnaik had led rallies in various parts of Odisha to press for farmers’ demands.

In Mumbai, under pressure from the opposition and ally Shiv Sena, the BJP-led Maharashtra government on Monday accepted the demands of agitating farmers, including their right to till forest land, as thousands of them converged here in a sea of red.

In a major victory for the farmers, who trekked 180km from Nashik to here over six days under the blazing sun, some even barefooted, the state’s revenue minister, Chandrakant Patil, said their “all demands" were being accepted.

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