In an indication that the nation’s farmers are in no mood to relent, as many as 130 farmer organisations on Friday came together for the first time to jointly press for their long-standing demands.
The groups, which represent tens of millions of farmers from across the country, formed a pan-India body called the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
The newly formed body will launch its maiden campaign on July 6 from Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, exactly a month after six farmers were allegedly killed there in a police firing. The AIKSCC procession will travel through several States, creating awareness about the plight of Indian farmers, and culminate in Champaran, Bihar, on October 2, marking the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagraha, said Raju Shetti, a member of the executive council of the AIKSCC and Lok Sabha MP belonging to Swabhimani Paksha, an NDA ally.Historic day
“This is a momentous day,” said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, which is also a part of AIKSCC. “Farmer organisations from every nook and corner of the country, irrespective of their ideological affiliations, are coming forward to be under one umbrella. This is nothing but historic.” He said the AIKSCC will put forward two demands.
First, write off crop loans taken from all banks, be it nationalised, private or cooperative. Second, implement the MS Swaminathan Commission report, as promised by the BJP when it came to power at the Centre in 2014.
“In the run-up to the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said if the BJP comes to power, it would write off the farm loans of UP farmers, which the Yogi Adityanath government subsequently did. But isn’t he the Prime Minister of the whole country and shouldn’t he be extending the same to farmers in other States, say Karnataka or Tamil Nadu?” asked BN Singh, another member of the committee known for spearheading the sugarcane farmers’ strike in UP.
Almost all major farmer outfits in Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and M.P. are part of the AIKSCC. Among other farmer outfits that extended support are the Left-leaning All India Kisan Sabha, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Tamil Nadu farmers led by P Ayyakannu, who had led a 41-day agitation in New Delhi recently.
Our Ahmedabad bureau reports:
Raising its political pitch ahead of the Assembly elections later this year, the Gujarat Congress on Friday blocked highways in parts of the State, demanding justice for farmers in the form of a loan waiver.
As many as 4,000 workers, the party claimed, were detained by the police from across the State for taking out rallies and causing blockade.Protests in Gujarat
“The Gujarat government’s anti-farmer policies have helped industrialists bloom, while farmers are still waiting for loan waivers, irrigation water, affordable power, fertilisers and seeds besides remunerative prices for farm produce. This exhibits the Gujarat government’s anti-farmer mindset,” said Manish Doshi, a Gujarat Congress spokesperson.
The police detained a large number of Congress supporters and farmers to bring the traffic movement back to normal.
The Congress claimed the blocking of roads was a successful event, but the BJP termed it a total failure.
“The Congress has attempted to break the unity of Gujarat and sow the seeds of bitterness among the people.
“Their agenda is to stop development and spread chaos,” said Bharat Pandya, Gujarat BJP spokesperson.