New Delhi: If the roaring mahapanchayats at multiple locations across Haryana are anything to go by the BJP government in the state and its ministers are expected to feel the heat from a simmering anger among the people about the way protests against the Farm Laws have been handled so far.
The Haryana unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has given the call to gherao residences of state government ministers in the days to come. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also in power at the Centre, leads a coalition government with the Jannayak Janata Party in the state.
Since September last year, when the three farm laws were passed in Parliament, farmer groups in Haryana and those in Punjab have been at the forefront of the agitation demanding the repeal of the contentious laws.
Later in November the protests reached the borders of the national capital and resulted in highway blockades, which continue even now.
During this period protests continued in Haryana’s hinterlands – albeit with less vigour – with the focus on sustaining the farmers camped at Delhi borders. A large number of farmers thronged mahapanchayats – large village council meetings – in the state and in Uttar Pradesh, a movement triggered following the Republic Day controversy.
A wayward contingent of farmers had barged into the Red Fort on January 26 – the day the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella group of farmers’ unions spearheading the ongoing movement, had called for a “tractor parade”. The episode invited flak from various quarters leading many to fear that the agitation would subside.
However, that did not happen. Vinod Kumar from CITU-Haryana said: “It were Rakesh Tikait’s tears that gave a whole new life to the ongoing movement.” Kumar was referring to an emotional outburst of by the farmer leader from western Uttar Pradesh, which was preceded by the Yogi Adityanath-led state administration telling protesters to clear the Ghazipur Border site.
“Now that we have gained strength, it is important to keep the pressure up on the government to accept our demands,” Kumar told Newsclick while sharing their three-day action plan.
The plan mentions that on February 12, the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala in Sirsa will be gheraoed to press him to withdraw his party’s support to the BJP. JJP’s Chautala is also under pressure from his voter-base which largely consists of Jat farmers.
Similarly, Kumar said that the residence of Kanwar Pal Gujjar, the state’s education minister, in Yamunanagar will be gheraoed on February 13; on February 14, the residences of both Rao Inderjit Singh – a union minister – in Gurgaon and state CM Manohar Lal Khattar in Karnal will be gheraoed.
He added that a wider participation of industrial workers and scheme workers along with farmers was expected.
Jai Bhagwan, general secretary, CITU-Haryana told Newsclick that the major demands of the campaign will be the repeal of the farm laws as well as the labour codes. “We also have a 16-point charter of demands alongside it,” he said. The demands include an increase in honorarium for Anganwadi workers and helpers, along with a regularisation of contract jobs.
The mobilisation is currently underway, he added, with jalsa in villages and meetings at workplaces being arranged.
Inderjit Singh, a Haryana-based farmer leader, said that in the backdrop of the ongoing farmers’ movement the “unity among various social groups” is growing throughout Haryana. “Trade unions, khaps and others are coming together on a single issue: the farm laws. Women are coming out to join the protests at Delhi’s borders. This will have a long-lasting effect on the social fabric of Haryana.”