Angry with the governments turning a blind eye towards their demands, farmers from five states have decided to launch massive strikes from June 1 on the lines of ‘Kisan Long March’.
In the impending agitations farmers from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab have announced that they would be joining hands with their fellow peasants from Maharashtra following the announcement by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) on April 10. The farmers wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) declared to stage a statewide agitation to mark the first anniversary of farmers’ protest and against BJP government’s apathy towards their demands.
The AIKS envisages to collect more than 100 million signatures of farmers, farm labourers and tribals on a memorandum of demands to be sent to the Prime Minister’s office reported Livemint.
The second wave of monumental agitations in contemporary India comes in the wake of BJP led Maharashtra government’s negligence to update the farmers’ leaders on the progress made by the six member inter-ministerial committee which was formed to look into the farmers’ demands.
It is worth mentioning that Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis assured the farmers that his government would consider the demands raised by them including complete loan waiver along with other demands within six months from the culmination of “Kisan Long March’ where more than 50,000 thousand farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai in March.
But within two months from the declaration by the Maharashtra government peasants are resorting to protests which represent the reminiscence of their enduring distress and government’s negligence towards implementing the assurances it made towards the farmers time and again.
In Madhya Pradesh, farmers’ issues and agitations have taken center stage since the state police shot five farmers dead during a protest in Mandsaur. Despite Shivraj Singh Chauhan made announcements of various schemes to address the farm distress since then, farmers from the state complained that those schemes including Bhavantar bhugtan Yojana probed redundant and demanded to act on the ground rather making announcements from stages.
Farmers in the poll-bound state have asserted that mere promises by the government have not emancipated them from their woes.
Expressing deep anguish farmers termed the government’s schemes as pro-intermediaries and pro-corporates and accused the state government of being indifferent towards their distress. Sanjay Kherua, member of Aam Kisan Union said, “The government claims they have put measures in place, but we farmers do not find policy level intervention on the ground. So we are going stop supplies of our commodities to cities in protest against government’s indifference.”
All Farmers On Board
While farmers in Maharashtra demanded implementation of recommendations made by the M. S. Swaminathan Commission, complete farm loan waiver and electricity bill waiver without conditions, legal provision guaranteeing minimum support price (MSP) that is 1.5 times the cost of production of farm produce, effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights ) Act, 2006, and provision of pension to farmers and farm labourers, their counterparts from Madhya Pradesh added another demand while expressing their full support to the AIKS strike.
Speaking to HindKisan, Kedar Sirohi founder member of Aam Kisan Union and the person who spearheaded a massive farmers protest in Madhya Pradesh last year said, “Almost all the farmers’ organizations have expressed their support to the strike and we are planning to enforce the strikes in our own ways. We will also press local issues while maintaining the larger demands.”
The farmer leader further said, “We will enforce a gaon bandh (village strike) and stop supply of milk and vegetables for 10 days which is our way of agitation. We demand that the MSP of our produces must be fixed at C2 cost plus 50 percent and another additional 10 percent management cost.”
Terming their strategy as economic non-cooperation Sirohi also said, “During our goan bandh we will not block the roads in cities so that people there do not face any problem while executing their daily works. We have decided to start barter system within villages so that farmers become self-sufficient, independent from corporate interventions. We produce all the necessary goods so we can survive on our own. We will initiate self-sufficient-village strategy to make agriculture a profitable profession.”
Meanwhile threatening to extend the protest indefinitely Sanjay Kherua said, “We have initially decided to hold strike till June 10, where we will be performing all the traditional rituals so that ancient village bonding revives. And to commemorate our martyrs who were killed by the police bullets in Mandsaur last year, we will tribute them on June 6. By then if the government do not act to our demands, consequences will be harsher.”
Notably, out of the five states where farmers are set to protest, four are BJP ruled states of which Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are going to polls by the end of this year.
Ahead of assembly polls in two crucial states and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections around the corner, will the BJP governments at center and states continue to make delusionary statements about 2022 whereas discontented farmers are forced to protest repeatedly.