September 28, 2021 2:26:21 am
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s (SKM) Bharat Bandh call did not evoke a response strong enough to shut down Maharashtra or Mumbai. Small protests by farmers’ organisations and non-BJP parties were held across the state. The bandh, which was peaceful, did not affect normal life, including commercial activities.
The SKM is an umbrella organisation that has elicited support from over 40 farmers groups, non-government organisations and political parties across India. The shutdown was called to mark one year since President Ram Nath Kovind signed off on three controversial farm laws that farmers, mainly in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against, and 10 months since those protests began.
The Congress and the NCP, who are part of the ruling coalition in the state, took out protest marches and bike rallies in some districts and cities. The Shiv Sena stayed away.
State NCP chief and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil participated in the bandh organised by his party unit in Aurangabad. At a public meeting, Patil led the workers in wearing black badges. “The NCP supports the bandh to highlight the plight of farmers. As a mark of protest, we not only held demonstrations but also wore black badges,” said Patil.
State Congress president Nana Patole Patole led a bike rally in Akola district. “The Narendra Modi government is against farmers and working class. We will continue our agitation till the three laws are repealed,” he said.
In Mumbai, Congress youth wing under Zeeshan Siddique held protests at various places in Andheri, Jogeshwari, Kurla and Bandra. Cabinet minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik led one of the protests. “The NCP has not given a call to bring normal life and work to a stand still. Our protest is symbolic. But we fully stand with the SKM’s Bharat Bandh,” Malik said.
“The Centre cannot bulldoze laws against farmers’ wishes. In a democracy, laws can be repealed and reenacted. But the government cannot push through without considering the opinion of other parties, especially farmers. It is the absolute dictatorial approach that we are opposing,” he added.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetti, lashing out at the PM, said, “This government is serving big corporate houses.”
The Agriculture Produce Market Committee in Pune remained closed as mark of solidarity with the farmers.
Saturday’s Bharat Bandh, underlining the “unrest” among people against the Centre’s policies, will lead to a united people’s political movement, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said. A joint statement issued in Mumbai by AIKS president Ashok Dhawale and general secretary Hannan Mollah described the bandh as a great success.
The statement said that the Bharat Bandh has shown that the last few years of struggle and worker-peasant unity have led to the building of a larger people’s united front against corporate exploitation, especially in agriculture, industry and services sectors. Political parties that stand for protecting the interests of corporates will face people’s ire, it added.
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