Farmers To Send Campaign Teams to Poll Bound States
Farmers teams to educate voters about their demands
The ongoing farmers’ movement is all set to decentralize in a big way and go to all the states. The process has started with the farmers preparing to fan across the five poll bound states to make the masses aware of not only the controversial farm legislations but convert this drive into a political one.
Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal spoke to reporters in Chandigarh saying, “We will be sending teams to the poll bound states and ask the people to punish the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by not voting for it. We are not affiliated to any political party. We will ask the people to vote for any political party they want other than the BJP.”
The beginning has been made from West Bengal already where teams of farmers are scheduled to address public events.In addition, vehicles will be sent to all the 294 assembly constituencies of the state to distribute literature on the farmers’ movement in the local language. Rajewal said that there are four teams comprising four farmers each headed towards Bengal that will address four rallies each as well.
Similarly teams have been sent to Assam. These teams will head to the other poll bound states later - Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Puducherry-- and then to the remaining states over the months.
Rajewal said the government stands trapped in ‘Raj Hath’ (ruler’s obstinacy) and hence is not repealing the controversial farm legislations against which the farmers have stood up as one.
Replying to a query about the possibility of revival of talks between the government and the farmers, he said, “The Prime Ministers say that he is just a phone call away. We do not know on what number he is available. If we have that number, the phone would not stop ringing. The government understands that it has done wrong by making these laws and they take it as a loss of face (in repealing the laws) and are sitting in ‘Raj Hath’. We have proved our case and would not go back till these laws are withdrawn.”
Rajewal pointed that the farmers and the government have on numerous occasions discussed the farm legislations thread bare clause by clause and on every occasion the latter was ready for making amendments but not repealing them. It is just that the government has made it a matter of prestige.
Rajewal pointed that this is for the first time in the democratic history of India that there has been a call for repealing legislations from the moment they were promulgated. “Amendments normally come in decades for any law and here there is a readiness for it from the beginning,” he pointed while accusing the government of misleading the people on these issues.
He refused to see the Manohar Lal Khattar led BJP government in alliance with Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in Haryana surviving the no confidence motion in the state assembly as a dampener on the farmers’ movement. He said that the people had approached the MLAs with petitions and had even demonstrated outside their houses seeking support for their movement. They would now punish these MLAs through the ballot when the time comes.
The farmers are concerned that the embedded media has blacked out the coverage of the farmers’ stir across the country. This reporter has been getting calls from places like Gujarat with the people saying that the newspapers and television channels, even the vernacular ones, have not been reporting a word on the ongoing agitation.
This has led the common people, particularly in states like Gujarat, to believe that the movement has fizzled out. It is to counter this narrative that the need is being felt to take the message right up to the grassroots in different languages. The farmers say that the people across the country need to know the devastation the controversial farm laws will cause to the rural economy.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ organizations have drawn up a new elaborate road map for the days to come. Observers say that the farmers have been successful in expanding the scope of their movement by bringing in socio-economic issues concerning other segments of the economy as well, whether it is the issue of industrial labourers, the government move towards corporatization and privatization of different sectors.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has decided to observe March 15 as ‘anti-corporate day’ and it will be marked in by protests at the local levels by giving memorandums to the local administration against the spiraling prices of cooking gas, diesel, petrol and other essential commodities. In addition, trade unions will hold demonstrations against privatization at railway stations all over the country.
On March 17, a joint convention will be organized with the trade unions and other mass organizations to plan for the proposed Bharat Bandh on March 26.
The farmer organizations will mark March 19 as day to celebrate the Muzara Lehar (tenancy movement) in Punjab. They would celebrate the success of the historic movement and hold protests in mandis across under the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Kheti Bachao programme.
This will be followed by another programme to mark the martyrdom of revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and his comrades on March 23 with youngsters descending on the borders of the national capital for a show of strength.
March 26 would see a Bharat Bandh to mark the completion of four months of this people’s movement.
Ob Holi the farmers plan to burn the copies of the controversial farm legislation.
The SKM leaders have shared details about the Kisan Majdoor Jagriti Yatra being undertaken in the Terai area of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. They also disclosed that Kisan Yatras are being taken out across Bihar from March 11 to 15. These Yatras will conclude in Patna on March 18 to mark Kisan Kranti Diwas in which thousands of farmers are expected to participate.
These programmes are over and above the huge Maha Panchayats that are being organized across various states.