Days after state Congress chief Raj Babbar joined protesting farmers at Mandola in Loni area of Ghaziabad, Opposition leaders are planning a joint visit there on June 22. The farmers in Mandola have been protesting for a few months, demanding revision of compensation for land acquired under the state government’s Avas Vikas Housing Scheme.
Sources said the visit would be planned along the lines of the visit in Mandsaur, where Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi courted arrest and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, accompanied by Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath, tried to meet the kin of the farmers affected during the protests in Madhya Pradesh.
The Congress has decided to “coordinate” with other parties in the Opposition and launch a nationwide campaign against the BJP government on the issue of agrarian distress. According to sources, a day before Rahul visited Mandsaur, he met Yadav and discussed taking up farmers’ issues.
The possibility of a joint visit by Opposition leaders to Mandola in Loni has been discussed among JD(U)’s Yadav and K C Tyagi, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and RLD’s Ajit Singh. Source said Yadav would also talk to former UP chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati from the SP and BSP. The date of the visit is likely to be June 22.
“Sharadji told Rahul about excesses against farmers in Mandola. There is a consensus among Opposition parties to take up all such issues concerning farmers. Mandola is another stop in the larger plan of the Opposition to take up farmers’ issues,” said a JD(U) functionary.
Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana, a BJP ally from Maharashtra, will be meeting Yadav on June 14. AAP leaders including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also called on Yadav last week. On June 10, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda had a telephonic conversation with Yadav. A meeting will be held in the national capital soon to chalk out plans to take up farmer issues in Haryana.
A leader said that the issue of agrarian crisis overtakes the caste and community divide and could shift attention from the existing political course around issues like cow and triple talaq. While some Opposition parties want a Bharat bandh to highlight the worsening farm crisis, other parties favour a step-by-step building up of momentum. Sources said there was a plan to organise a joint protest in Delhi and multi-party delegations would visit protest-hit areas.
AICC general secretary C P Joshi said the Congress would “coordinate” with other parties. “We will join hands with parties that want to work with us on the issues of farmers,” he said.
Joshi said farm loan waivers were not a “permanent solution” and asked the BJP government to implement its poll promise of revising MSP adding 50 per cent of the cost of production.