Unprecedented mobilisation is underway for a Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat by farmer organisations, labour unions and other civil society groups to protest the imposition of “pro-corporate” farm laws. Lakhs of people are expected to participate from across the country with the majority coming from Punjab, Haryana, UP and Uttarakhand.

Polls are due in three of these states by March. The event holds special significance for farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, president of the BKU as Muzaffarnagar is his home turf and western UP has played a major role along with Haryana in beefing up the movement after the January 26 violence at Red Fort used to good effect by the embedded media.

Farmers’ organisations and leaders have been extensively touring various states holding mahapanchayats and rallies exhorting the people to reach Muzaffarnagar. There have been tractor rallies in Uttar Pradesh besides well-attended mahapanchayats at Mewat and Gharonda in Haryana. Punjab too is witnessing a mobilisation, and sources say that other states will also be represented at the event.

“Enthusiasm for the event is unprecedented as people from every village have hired vehicles to go to Muzaffarnagar. The event is going to be unprecedented and I feel that many might not be able to even reach the venue given the logjam that is expected.

“The police action against the farmers in Karnal and other places prior to that has had a multiplier impact on public sentiment. They want to convey their anger at the government’s insensitivity towards their demands. They are also agitated over the spiralling inflation particularly in fuel prices,” said Inderjeet, an All India Kisan Sabha leader from Haryana.

The participants coming from Punjab are expected to journey to Muzaffarnagar mainly by train. Besides the large-scale participation of people from the state at the protest sites surrounding Delhi, protests and demonstrations are on in Punjab at a reported 125 sites including railway premises, toll plazas, and shopping malls run by corporate entities.

Inderjeet emphasised that “people feel that their anger and participation has a moral sanctity. They want to teach the BJP a lesson and isolate the party in Uttar Pradesh. They want to demonstrate that the masses are against them. Every district from Haryana is expected to send at least 20,000 people for the event.”

According to Narayan Dutt of the Inquilabi Kendra Punjab, “The aim is to spread this agitation across Uttar Pradesh which is a very big state. The event will trigger our Mission Uttar Pradesh and also Uttarakhand. We are ready for a long haul.

“Everyone has seen how the agitation that was started from Punjab had a spillover impact in Haryana, which took the lead from there on. From Haryana it went to western Uttar Pradesh and now it will be taken across Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” Dutt told The Citizen.

Substantial participation is also expected from Uttarakhand, an erstwhile part of Uttar Pradesh that is scheduled to go to polls along with the latter.

Gangadhar Nautiyal who is the Samyukta Kisan Morcha convener for the state told this reporter, “A quota of participants has been assigned to every district and they will reach the spot from every part of the state. A plan was chalked out at a well-attended rally in Rudrapur some days back that saw the participation of 23 organisations.”

“The entire top leadership will make its presence felt at the Muzaffarnagar rally,” said Manik Goyal, who has been involved in the logistics of the farmers movement.

“The farmers’ leadership has activated more than 20 units in the Purvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh in the last one month, besides organising tractor rallies and kisan panchayats in the state. There has been large-scale mobilisation in the Terai belt spread across both Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh which is known as Mini Punjab.”

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha held a national convention in Delhi last week where a resolution was passed calling upon all farmers and supporting organisations to put in full efforts to make the Muzaffarnagar rally an unprecedented success and to take Mission UP/Uttarakhand to the grassroots in all villages.

According to AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, “The house noted that though the farmers of India have built a massive, democratic and peaceful movement to make the government see reason, but in its blind commitment to serve the interests of corporate profits the government has stubbornly refused to see logic.”

It was noted that all the government’s proposals to make changes to the controversial laws provide no answer or relief to the farmers’ apprehension of corporate takeover of agricultural production, processes and markets, or to their suffering the loss of their livelihoods and land, or the damage that will be done to the country’s environment, ecology and biodiversity.

It was further underlined that the farmers have been peaceful in their protests “despite serious provocations caused by the RSS-BJP” while the government makes baseless charges to falsely implicate patriotic farmers under draconian laws.

The resolutions passed at the convention said that this “historic movement has united people across religions, castes and regions and has inspired huge participation by all oppressed sections of people against their exploitation by big corporations; and that it has inspired confidence of the people of India to remain united and steadfast in struggle against fascist onslaught of this pro-corporate government”.

These lessons drawn by farmers and workers over the past year have resulted in the call for the Muzzafarnagar rally, as well as an all-India Bandh on September 25, the anniversary of the first Bharat Bandh conducted by this movement.

It is also the date when protestors will complete 10 months of a peaceful sit-in at Delhi’s borders.

Muzaffarnagar: Swarms Of Farmers Gather In 'Mahapanchayat' To Support BKU
File photograph of a farmers mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar in January this year