Kisan Mahapanchayat: Farmers step up heat in poll-bound states

After Muzaffarnagar show of strength, farmers turn to Haryana

Politics

September 7, 2021

/ By and / New Delhi

Kisan Mahapanchayat: Farmers step up heat in poll-bound states

Over half a million farmers assembled at a Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat to rally against the contentious farm laws (Photo: Aman Kanojiya/MIG photos)

Over 500,000 farmers assembled at the Government Inter College ground in a Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat on Sunday to rally against the contentious farm laws that have ignited continuous protests and sit-ins at Delhi’s borders for nine long months. Keeping the pressure up on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the farmers have planned protest against Haryana government in Karnal on Tuesday.

The massive gathering of farmers organised in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, that drew over 500,000 persons as well as leaders of 300 farmer unions from 15 states across India not only sent a clear message to the Uttar Pradesh government but the entire leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party about the unity and strength of the farmers’ protest that has been going on for over nine months so far.

Enthused by the success on Sunday, the farmers are keeping the pressure high on the government and have planned a protest in Karnal in Haryana on Tuesday. Just last week, the farmers faced a massive crackdown by police in Haryana in which several farmers were seriously injured as the police baton charged the peaceful protest.

Worried over the turnout on Tuesday, the Haryana government has already ordered shutdown of mobile internet in and around Karnal from Monday noon itself.

Their anxiety is perhaps explained by the Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. At the gathering, farm leader Rakesh Tikait warned the ruling BJP that the farmers would teach it a lesson in the upcoming elections not just in Uttar Pradesh but all over India. Calling Prime Minister Modi and the BJP leaders “rioters” and condemning them for the deaths of “martyred farmers”, Tikait, who is also Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson, said the farmers were fully aware of how to mill wheat and run factories without needing government interference.

Leaders like Rakesh Tikait stressed the importance of unity over communal divide at the rally (Photo: Aman Kanojiya/MIG photos)

Tikait, who had formerly helped BJP win over influential Jat lobby in 2014 elections, also pointed out the hypocrisy of the Centre’s stance on farmers’ wellbeing, saying that while they were the Opposition party, BJP had criticised crop prices, but then have refused to raise the MSP of staples such as wheat in the last 5 years, curbing farmers’ profits.

“This is the government’s fault. When history will be written, then we will see whose name is on it. Centre should understand that their approach will not work for too long. The way the assets are being sold in the country cannot continue,” Tikait told Media India Group.

Medha Patkar, prominent social activist, who is known for fighting for the rights of the underprivileged in India, was also present at the rally and condemned the government’s alliance with major players in the Indian corporate world, such as Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.

“The Modi government does not even allow the Opposition to speak in Parliament. They are wasting money on breaking Parliament buildings, rail bhawan (railway headquarters), museums, without any meaning, when the real need is to provide for the poor. Kisan (farmers) are simply asking for the right price for their produce, but Modi government does not want to give it. These three laws have been made for big businesses, that is why they are not willing to withdraw them. Therefore the farmers have gathered here in Muzaffarnagar today to campaign for the betterment of all sections of society. Today the role that the Prime Minister has taken is for Gujarat’s Adani and Ambani, not for the people of UP,” Patkar told Media India Group.

Patkar went on to explain the significance of Sunday’s site for the massive rally, saying the communal polarisation and divide which catapulted the Modi government to power in 2014 can no longer be used as an excuse. Muzaffarnagar was the district in UP where the bloody Jat-Muslim riots had shattered peace and harmony in the community and prompted huge election wins for BJP in the following years.

“All movements go through criticism, and even this has been called ‘Khalistani-Pakistani’ by Modi. In the case of Ayodhya also, he tried to divide the people. Muzaffarnagar has been a site of Hindu-Muslim communal riots before and innocent people have been killed. When we came earlier, that was the environment, but now it has changed. All the farmers and the workers have become one, and all Hindus and Muslims have become one,” said Patkar.

Farmers all over India have been fighting for their economic security for 9 months (Photo: Aman Kanojiya/MIG photos)

Patkar explained that it is up to the public to discern the truth and prevent religious dissonance from destroying Indian society, citing the importance of India’s history and traditional, secular values, “Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb” or the cultural mélange that India has been for centuries.

“They have tried to divide the people by bringing in RSS people and putting them in police uniforms but they have been unsuccessful. Because UP is the state that elects the prime minister, so it can oust him as well. It is important that the public should not forget their conscience and keep their values. That will make the real politics and real economics. Those who do not agree with our values will be defeated in the elections. This is not just a panchayat (local village gathering), but it is a nation-wide effort,” she added.

The protestors threatened to teach a lesson to the BJP if it did not repeal the farm laws immediately. The protestors also unanimously called for a nationwide “Bharat Bandh” or nationwide strike, on September 27 in objection to the laws. The farmers, leaders and social activists all hope for the Indian public’s backing, saying they remain confident the movement will receive the voice it deserves.

“We have requested shopkeepers all over India to follow Bharat Bandh, and we have leaders who will get support from all over the country,” said Tikait, referring to the Left parties such as CPI and RSP, who have pledged support for their struggle.

UP toh chhota hai, desh bachhana hai (UP is just one state, we need to save the country),” he added.

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