With farmer leaders intensifying efforts to make the ongoing stir pan-India agitation against three farm laws, the farmer groups from Bihar have announced to move to Delhi from January 8.
A visit to Patna by Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union president Gurnam Singh Chaduni to meet farmer leaders seems to have further brought Bihar in sync with the ongoing protests. Chaduni visited Patna on Monday.
Soon after his visit, Bihar Kisan Manch president Dhirendra Singh Tuddu announced that farmers will hold three-day protest in Patna from January 5 before moving to Delhi in trains.
Farmer leaders have focused on Bihar after getting huge support from Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Explaining the reasons behind focus on Bihar, Chaduni said, “People of Bihar understand the entire matter. We want the agitation to spread in Bihar because the example of “Bihar model” is cited by BJP leaders in favour of new laws. That’s why the association of Bihar farmers with this agitation has special importance. We are receiving a lot of phone calls from farmer leaders of Bihar and hope that the agitation will pick up in the state soon despite the fact that there are only small farmer organisations in Bihar.”
In 2006, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s government showed the way by repealing his state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act and allowing crops to be freely traded outside the state’s regulated mandis. According to Chaduni, the farmers of Bihar don’t get MSP after the mandi system was abolished there in 2006 forcing them to go to other states as labourers.
According to Tuddu, Chaduni suggested that they should hold more dharnas, rallies in Bihar to put pressure on the central government keeping in view the long distance between Bihar and the national capital. “We can’t go to Delhi from Bihar in tractor-trolleys like the farmers of Haryana and Punjab as the distance ranges from 1,200 to 1,500 km to Delhi from different parts of Bihar. But certainly, we will go to Delhi but mainly on trains,” Tuddu told The Indian Express over phone.
“I believe almost 90 per cent of the farmers in Bihar have very small land holdings mostly with two or even less than two acres. And the small farmers will be most affected because of such laws,” added Tuddu, demanding that the three farm laws be repealed.
According to Tuddu, they have already launched district-level programmes against three Acts in Bihar.
“Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar say the farmers of Bihar are satisfied (with such policies). APMC mandis were closed first of all in Bihar. We want to show that the Bihar farmers are not satisfied with the government of Centre and state. We also want that purchase of crops below the minimum support price (MSP) be made a criminal offence,” said Tuddu adding the Bihar farmers will move to Patna in tractor-trolleys on January 5.
“We will hold dharnas in Patna for three days. We have discussed the programme with Chaduni and Madhya Pradesh farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma Kakkaji,” he added.
Another farmer leader from Bihar, Dhananjay Singh Madhu said they will work on a two-tier strategy. “We will not only hold programmes in Bihar towns but will also go to Delhi,” said Madhu, who is convener of Kisan Majdoor Swaraj Samiti.
According to Madhu, there is undercurrent among the farmers of Bihar too with local residents, who have gone to Punjab and Haryana for labour purposes, telling about the adverse impact of the farm laws and the ongoing agitation against these laws in both states.
“These labourers have small land holdings in Bihar too, but they go to Punjab and Haryana for labour purposes. Apart from their feedback, the farmers are coming to know about these laws through social media too. So, the ground has been prepared. There is just a need for organised efforts to mobilise the Bihar farmers for a big agitation,” said Madhu, who has spent a week at Singhu border of Delhi.
It was on the invitation of Madhu that Chaduni had gone to Patna on Monday.
Madhu claimed that almost 7,000 mandis have already been closed in Bihar and the government doesn’t purchase the crops at MSP except a small quantity of paddy.
“The farmers in Bihar don’t know about the MSP as the government doesn’t offer MSP to the farmers for their crops. Bihar is a big producer of onion and it is even exported to Bangladesh but there is no purchaser of onion from farmers at fair prices,” he said.