Farmers protesting against the three farm laws for over a year kicked off on Sunday Mission Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand, vowing to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections, at the Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat held in Muzaffarnagar.
Emboldened by the response for the mahapanchayat held in the western Uttar Pradesh district, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) — which has been spearheading the farmers agitation at Delhi’s borders from November last year — announced a Bharat Bandh on September 27.
Speaker after speaker drew attention to the size of the gathering as a response to the Right-wing ecosystem’s claim that only a handful of farmers are opposed to the farm laws.
With farmers cutting across all faiths and from at least 15 states turning up for the mahapanchayat bearing the Tricolour and their organisational flags, the SKM sought to project it as a united struggle against the communal and casteist politics of the BJP governments at the Centre and in the states.
Given that the rise of the BJP over the past decade in Uttar Pradesh has broken the Muslim-Jat compact nurtured by former Prime Minister Charan Singh for years, the farmers pledged to ensure that communal riots do not break out again and coined a slogan for Hindu-Muslim unity — “Allahu Akbar-Har Har Mahadev”.
The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh came in for particular targeting with farmer leaders pointing out that it has not fulfilled the promises made to the farming community.
Even 20 per cent of the promised procurement has not been done. The UP government had promised loan waiver for 86 lakh farmers but only 45 lakh farmers have received the relief. The Union government agency CACP has found that in the year 2017, the cost of sugarcane was Rs 383 per quintal, but farmers were paid Rs 325 per quintal, and sugarcane mills owe farmers sS 8,700 crore, they said.
In Uttar Pradesh, crop insurance was paid to 72 lakh farmers in 2016-17, while in 2019-20, only 47 lakh farmers were paid, where as crop insurance companies earned a profit of Rs 2,508 crore, they pointed out. The Adityanath government assumed office in the summer of 2017.
The show of strength by farmers drew support from BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who posted a video of the massive mobilisation and tweeted: “Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view and work with them in reaching common ground.”
This was not just a tweet in support for agitating farmers but also a commentary on the government’s attitude towards the farmers protests.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi took to verse to again articulate support for the farmers tweeting in Hindi that the unjust government will have to listen to the voice of truth being echoed by the farmers.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Bharat on the rise. Independent India has never seen such a historic 10-month-long struggle. Modi govt must repeal Agri laws & legalise MSP. Discuss with our Annadatas who feed all of us.’’