The farmers’ vehicle march to Delhi, which began with over 20,000 participants from Maharashtra’s Nasik on December 21, continued to draw huge crowds at every stop on the second day, showing the massive support that the farmers’ movement against the new farm laws has garnered.
On Tuesday morning (December 22), farmers left from Chandwad – where they had stayed the night – towards Dhule. They received a grand welcome at smaller villages like Vardedi and Umarane before reaching Malegaon.
"Look at the welcome the jatha is receiving everywhere. It is spontaneous. The feeling is that our farmers are going out for a battle in Delhi. People are supporting and giving their blessings to the farmers," said JP Gavit, former Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA from Kalwan.
Earlier in 2018, the farmers’ long march from Nasik to Mumbai, organised by the All India Kisan Sabha, had forced the then Maharashtra government under Devendra Fadnavis to accept the farmers’ demands, setting the tone for farmers movements across the country. It is the same spirit which has inspired the farmers to undertake this historic vehicle march to the national capital to demand their rights.
"These three laws will finish our existence as independent farmers and we will be slaves of Ambani and Adani in future. The guarantee of MSP provides the minimum help to farmers now. But these laws are trying to take even that away from us. So, we will protest until MSP is protected by law and all these laws scrapped," said Harishchandra Dudhane, 57, a farmer from Malegaon.
Also read: Thousands of Maharashtra Farmers Begin Historic Vehicle March to Delhi
Farmers and villagers are standing on the road to welcome the marching protesters wherever the vahan jatha is passing through. They are also arranging food for the farmers. Farmer Rakhma Gosavi from Umarane village, who gave onions from her farm to the protesters, told NewsClick, "They are going to Delhi to fight for us. I can't go due to age. So, it is my duty that I should contribute somehow in the fight."
One of the reasons behind the huge opposition to the laws is that the farmers in the state have experienced how the absence of MSP and government procurement attacks the farmers’ interests and benefits the agents and big businessmen.
Shankar More, 68, from Nandgaon of Nasik shared his experience about onion. "This year we thought that onions will give us good money. But market was up for just eight days. Later on, it crashed (following the Centre’s abrupt change of the export policy and allowing imports of onions to keep the rates stable in the open market). So, farmers faced huge losses. We got nothing," he said.
The importance of MSP is therefore, stressed by farmers leaders across the state. Commenting on this, Dr Ajit Nawale, secretary of AIKS Maharashtra, said that the Modi government is trying end all forms of protection to farmers. "This government says that it will double the income of farmers by 2022. But in reality, it is ending the MSP. Farmers must understand that ending MSP will push them to situation where they won't have any say into deciding the price for their crops," he said.
Even though political parties are not represented in the march, however, it has received support from all non-BJP parties in the state, including the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, and Shiv Sena. Several political party leaders also participated in the support meeting at Dhule, calling for a sustained struggle.
"We thank all the people who have supported us for this rally. It is pretty clear that the battle is not just of farmers. People have taken it in their hands now. Modi government will have to pay the price for its arrogance," Dr Ashok Dhawale, national president of AIKS, emphasised.
The farmers’ vehicle march will cross Maharashtra border on the morning of December 23 and are expected to reach the borders of Delhi, where farmers from Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, UP, Gujarat are already camping, on the evening of December 24.
Also read: Farmers’ Uprising – A Broad Timeline