In a bid to intensify their alliance, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and the central trade unions on Tuesday (March 2) announced that both platforms will undertake joint struggles against the farm laws and controversial four labour codes.
Addressing a press conference at the Singhu Border, Balbeer Singh Rajewal, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Rajewal said that farmers will organise a traffic blockade on the KMP Expressway which connects Kundli to Manesar and Palwal on March 6 to express their anguish against the consistent apathy shown to the farmers’ movement. The day marks 100 days of the movement which began on November 26 last year.
Rajewal added that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha- a collective of farmers’ unions- appeals to the people to put black flags at their homes, wear black badges or ribbons. “We want to show that the farmers are angry with this arrogant government which humiliated and insulted us even when we categorically pointed out the flaws in the farm laws clause by clause,” he said.
In an important observation, the leaders said that the collective is also planning to organise mahapanchayats or large assemblies in the five states going to polls.
“The government and the ruling party does not understand the language of justice. It only understands the language of power and votes of the people which elected them. Thus, we have decided that the collective will appeal the voters to defeat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and vote the party which has the strength to defeat this arrogant party. We will go to Calcutta on March 12 in one of the assemblies to deliver the message of ‘defeat BJP’. Similarly, we will go to Kerala, too, and deliver the same message,” Rajewal further said.
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Jai Kisan Andolan convenor Yogendra Yadav added that the unions have decided to conduct MSP Dilwao Yatra (Give MSP Campaign) which will begin from Gulbarga in Karnataka and cover Telangana and Abdhra Pradesh in its first phase.
“The Prime Minister has been thumping his chest that the government provided minimum support price to the farmers across the country. In Karnataka, the farmers have harvested major crops like ragi, gram and groundnut but the market rates are so abysmal that the farmers are selling them at over Rs 1,000 below MSP. For example, ragi’s MSP is Rs 3,250 per quintal whereas the farmers are selling it at Rs 1,900 per quintal. The farmers want to highlight the farce of this inefficient mechanism,” he said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta-Ugrahan president Joginder Singh Ugrahan told NewsClick that the coalition between farmers’ organisations and central trade unions seemed imminent given the impact of the laws. He said, “The move (coalition) was needed because the movement has reached a critical stage where the unity of workers and farmers is necessary. We did organise on similar lines when one of our comrades was arrested.”
He added, “We met the Central Trade Unions yesterday (March 1) and agreed in principle that we will lend our support to the unions fighting rampant privatisation of public sector undertakings and institutions of national importance like the railways. The Centre is seeking to privatise public sector banks, insurance and shipping companies. We have decided that the farmers will join the trade unions and hit the streets on March 15. Further programmes will be decided in another meeting scheduled to take place on March 11.”
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On being asked if the farmers’ unions were comfortable associating with trade unions affiliated to political parties, Ugrahan said, “We know it very well which trade union is affiliated with political parties. We do not have any objection with it. However, we have made it clear that no political person would be invited to the main stage or make speeches.”
The co-ordination between the trade unions and farmers’ organisations in the struggle against farm laws can be traced to the call given by peasants to protest en masse in the national capital on November 26 last year. The central trade unions - which organised one of the biggest workers’ strike in the history of the country- on the same day had supported the move.
Dharamender Malik, media incharge of Bharatiya Kisan Union-Tikait, said that the collective acknowledges the contribution of women to the movement. “The women constitute the most important part of the movement. Thus, we will observe International Women’s Day in their honour and the agitation at the tolls or elsewhere on the particular day will be led by women only,” he added.
Addressing the conference, Bharatiya Kisan Union-Nain president Joginder Nain said, “The implementation of farm laws is in such a fast mode that the permission for building silos at six locations in Haryana has already been granted. The farmers have been requesting to stage protest at these sites. We have decided that we will stage protests and halt operations there too.”