Updated: March 2, 2021 10:36:17 pm
Looking to step up the heat on the Centre, the leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmers protesting against the farm laws, have decided to visit all poll-bound states and the Union Territory of Puducherry to rally support to their cause and apprise voters on the role of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in framing what they call ‘black’ legislations. The plan is to travel to the interiors of these states and UT and hand out pamphlets on the farm Bills to villagers.
The first in a series of conventions planned will be in Kolkata on March 12 and more will follow in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam which will go to polls in the coming weeks. Confirming the plan, Dr Darshan Pal, president of the Punjab chapter of the Krantikari Kisan Union and a member of SKM said, “First off, we’ll be visiting West Bengal on March 12. We take part at a convention in Kolkata where we’ll apprise local food growers on the anti-farmer face of the BJP and ask them to teach this ‘Kisan Virodhi’ party a lesson in the upcoming polls.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Avik Saha, secretary, All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), said, “We’ll appoint ‘Kisan Doots’ (emissaries) at the March 12 convention and they will take turns to reaching Bengal’s villages and distributing pamphlets highlighting the sore points in the farm laws and their consequences for the agricultural community in layman’s language. More people at these villages will spread out among larger masses, taking the message forward. We’re calling on people not to vote for an anti-farmer party like the BJP, as it has turned a deaf ear to the plight of farmers despite them sitting on the borders of Delhi since November 26.”
Balbir Singh Rajewal, another SKM member, said, “We will send our leaders to West Bengal and Kerala for the time being and urge people not to vote for BJP. However, we will not extend support to any political party fighting these elections. We will simply explain the farm laws, the BJP’s role in framing them and how they stand to impact the agricultural community.”
Pal said, “It has been agreed that myself, (former Aaam Aadmi Party leader) Yogendra Yadav, Gurnam Singh Chaduni (president, BKU, Haryana) and Avik Saha, (secretary, AIKSCC) will be going to Kolkata. More details on future visits will emerge in the coming days. In Punjab, protesting farmers follow BJP leaders wherever they go. Now, we’ll be following them to other parts of the country as well.”
Saha added, “We will seek permission of the returning officer concerned for holding the (Kolkata) convention, tomorrow (Wednesday).”
It isn’t unprecedented for farmer or farm union leaders to be touring the country to rally support to their causes. They have been part of conventions in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, among other states, in previous years and these events were attended in large numbers by local farmers.
“Apart from holding conventions in poll-bound states and UT, SKM will also launch an ‘MSP Dilao Abhiyan’ all over the country. As part of this campaign, we will showcase the reality of prices that farmers get for the produce at markets. It will serve to highlight the shallowness of the Modi’s government’s MSP (minimum support price) promise. This campaign will be taken to the southern states of
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to start with. Farmers all over the country are invited to join this campaign,” Pal added.
Since March 6 will mark 100 days of the farmer protest at Delhi’s doorsteps, the unions will hold a five-hour blockade of KMP Expressway, connecting various protest sites outside the national capital, on the day. The blockade will be in force between 11am and 4pm. Toll plazas will be vacated during the protest.
Elsewhere in the country, the day will be marked by raising black flags at houses and offices to signify support for the movement. The SKM has also urged protestors to wear black armbands on that day, the leaders said. On March 8, the Morcha will observe Mahila Kisan Diwas. On March 15, it will stand in support with the central trade unions, which will observe ‘Anti-Privatisation Day’ and also support their call of marking the day as ‘Anti-Corporatisation Day’. It will also extend support to the nationwide trade union protests on the day, Pal said.
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