A day ahead of the Bharat Bandh announced by farmer unions seeking a repeal of the Centre’s new agriculture laws, the BJP on Monday accused the Opposition parties of “trying to create anarchy in the country” by “politicising the issue using innocent farmers for their own benefit”.
Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states led the counter-attack on the Opposition, accusing it of “doublespeak” and “firing a gun from the shoulder of farmers”.
Speaking to mediapersons at his Lucknow residence, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged that the political parties backing the farmers’ protests had supported the “same agricultural reforms” during the Congress-led UPA government in 2010-2011.
“When the Congress was in power then parties like NCP, Left, DMK, SP, BSP and TMC were either in the government or were supporting it from outside. That time then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar wrote a letter to the state governments stating that there was a need to amend the APMC Act… It is an example of their double character and how they are firing from the shoulder of innocent farmers to create anarchy and disorder,” the Chief Minister said.
In Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, after a meeting at the PWD Rest House in Gurgaon, accused opposition parties of “behaving like this” “whenever the BJP comes forward to do some good work”. He insisted that farmers in Haryana are “happy” and are being “instigated” to protest by the “Opposition” which is “firing a gun from their shoulders”. “It is ironic that the agrarian reform laws that were being spoken about in 2010-11 after the UPA government was formed… at that time they failed to make it and today, when PM Narendra Modi has made these agriculture Bills materialise, then all these parties are protesting,” he said.
Reacting to the Bharat Bandh call, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said Gujarat would be fully functional Tuesday and warned of legal action against those “trying to vitiate the atmosphere”. “The talk of Bharat Bandh by opposition parties in the name of farmers has made it clear that farmer is just a pretext. To show their political existence, Congress and other opposition parties have joined hands in this (call of) Bharat Bandh,” he said.
In Tamil Nadu, addressing party supporters at the conclusion of the state BJP’s Vel Yatra in Tiruchendur, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan claimed that Opposition parties like Congress and DMK could not fight the BJP face to face and were therefore opposing the farm laws.
In Uttarakhand, CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said farmers have been misled about the new farm laws which are actually in their interest and accused the Congress government in Punjab of turning the agitation in the wrong direction.
In Maharashtra, former CM Devendra Fadnavis said the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena’s support to the bandh has exposed their “double standards” as the new farm reforms are modelled on Acts already implemented successfully in the state during the Congress and NCP regime.
Meanwhile, the Shetkari Sanghatana, founded by farmer leader Sharad Joshi, has decided not to participate in the bandh and to also oppose any move to rollback the three farm laws.
In other states
With farmer bodies calling for a Bharat Bandh today, The Indian Express looks at other groups expressing solidarity, and services likely to be hit in states.
The DC Office Employees Union of Punjab has announced they will go on mass casual leave and sit on dharnas with farmers on Tuesday while the Punjab Dairy Association has announced it won’t supply milk. Wholesale vegetable and fruit mandis will stay closed, hotels and restaurants have also announced to stay closed in support of the bandh call given by the protesting farmers. The Ludhiana Stock Exchange will also stay closed. Buses and trucks will stay off the roads while shops with the Ludhiana District Chemist Association will remain shut the entire day and petrol pumps will stay closed from 9 am to 5 pm.
The Shiromani Akali Dal has cancelled its centenary celebrations, which were to be organised from December 8-10.
Indian Association of Lawyers (IAL) secretary Ashwani Bakshi said they have extended support to the Bharat Bandh call and lawyers in Hisar have announced they will hold a dharna in front of the local mini secretariat. The Haryana Petroleum Dealer Welfare Association has announced that petrol pumps will closed, while khap leaders in Jind have announced that they will block all roads to Delhi from Haryana by parking tractors and barricading the way.
Police have issued a comprehensive travel advisory for the general public as “they may face traffic blockages, while travelling on various roads and highways”.
Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sangarsh Samiti convener Badal Saroj said over 1,500 farmers from the state are taking part in the ongoing protest in Delhi, and that the Bandh will be affective in nearly 35 districts of the state. Major opposition parties, along with major trade and transport unions and Mandi Board unions have extended their support to the Bandh. Shops, business establishments, offices will remain shut. A high alert has been issued in 35 districts across the state and 34 companies of security forces and 5,000 security personnel have been deployed across the State.
The authorities have also imposed CrPC Section 144 in several districts — Chhatarpur, Shivpuri, Bhind, Ashoknagar, Guna, Gwalior and Katni — and roads leading to Delhi have been sealed. Drones are being used for surveillance in Gwalior.
All major AMPCs such as Navi Mumbai, Nashik, Pune and Solapur will remain shut. MSRTC has shut bus services on sensitive routes but Mumbai buses will continue as per schedule. Unions of taxi, autorickshaw, shops, hotels and others have not given their support to the bandh.
The Shetkari Sanghatana — the farmers’ union founded by farmer leader Sharad Joshi — has decided to not participate in the bandh and has said it will oppose any move to roll back the three farm laws.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police said they will patrol the city and an extra force of up to 600 constables has been roped in from different branches of the force.
The Gujarat police announced that it would impose prohibitory orders, even as Chief Minister Vijay Rupani declared that Gujarat would remain open and that his government would ensure that nobody tries to forcefully shut down businesses and shops.
However, some Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in Gujarat are expected to remain closed, and the Textile Market Labour Union and Textile Tempo Association have announced their support for the bandh.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that while her government does not support bandh, it will support the demands being made by farmers
The Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party — a BJP ally and part of the ruling NDA — has announced its support to the Bharat Bandh call. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has directed police to maintain law and order.