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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

Bharat Bandh: Andhra Pradesh govt extends support to farmers

The ruling YSR Congress Party as well as the Opposition Telugu Desam Party have backed the call for strike on Friday

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 26.03.21, 01:03 AM
Coolers being installed at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Thursday.

Coolers being installed at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Thursday. Prem Singh

Farmers received a shot in the arm on the eve of their Bharat Bandh with the Andhra Pradesh government extending support to the protest action to mark the completion of four months of the movement at Delhi’s borders.

The ruling YSR Congress Party as well as the Opposition Telugu Desam Party have supported the call for the bandh on Friday. Both parties had remained aloof during the first Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) — which is spearheading the movement of farmers — on December 8.

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The Andhra government’s decision to support the bandh is primarily driven by its opposition to the Narendra Modi government’s decision to privatise Visakhapatanam Steel Plant, and a result of the effort by farmers to build solidarities across sectors over the past couple of months when their protest stopped getting any traction in the mainstream media.

While trade unions and several political parties had supported the December 8 bandh too, this time round the farmers have been able to rope in students’ organisations and Bar associations as well.

In a video statement, Darshan Pal of Krantikari Kisan Union, a constituent of the SKM, has made it clear that participation in the bandh — scheduled from 6am to 6pm — is voluntary and no one should be forced to down their shutters.

The SKM’s expectation is that all shops, malls, markets and institutions will remain closed. Only essential services and ambulances will be exempt, the SKM said in a statement. The farmers plan to block roads and railway tracks.

In Andhra Pradesh, the state government has announced that buses run by the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation will not ply till 1pm. The farmers have decided to block the alternative routes that had been created near their protest sites for the entire duration of the Bharat Bandh.

Delhi, which has been kept out of the protest plans for two months since the violence during the tractor rally on January 26, has not been exempt this time.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) — an umbrella body of 40,000 trade associations — said all business establishments in Delhi and across the country shall remain open on Friday and normal trading activities will be held. “Neither the CAIT is supporting the bandh nor any farmer organisation has approached to support bandh,” the confederation said in a statement.

With the farmers’ movement having spread to other parts of the country since Republic Day, the SKM is hoping that the bandh will have a greater impact than the one on December 8.

For over two months now, the government has not formally invited farmers for any negotiations and there has been a complete breakdown of communication, resulting in a hardening of stance on both sides. The farmers remain steadfast on their demands that the three farm laws have to go and a law guaranteeing MSP should be enacted.

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