Dharwad: As a spontaneous reaction to the failure of the government to bring the discussions with the farmers to a conclusion even after eight rounds of discussion, many farmers’ organisations in North Karnataka took out a tractor protest rally today. A broad spectrum of farmers’ organisations, civil society organisations and members of political parties participated in it.
The rally saw active participation of the former BJP Union Minister in Atal Bihari government Baba Gowda Patil [now in Janata Dal (Secular)], Gururaj Hansimarad of JDS, farmer activist Gangadhar Patil-Kulkarni, CPM-Union activist Abdul Khan, Gandhian social worker Adv. Nerlikar, Congress member Basavaraja Malkari, Secular Unity activist Ashraf Ali and many other prominent figures from North Karnataka standing on tractors and raising slogans.
The slogans in Kannada roughly translate to: ‘the nation survives if the farmers survive’, ‘who allowed them to die in cold, who wants the farmers to be sold?’, ‘we are coming from Tail land, Kannada land, Telugu land, Marathi land, Bangali land, Punjabi land’, ‘one tractor for one martyr’.
The tractors displayed banners carrying photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, Basveshwar and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, while the protesters also carried tricolor with them. The rally was symbolic as it allowed one tractor each for the number of farmers who have died while camping at protesting near Delhi.
The other tractors were asked to assemble at the Kadappa Maidan. The rally began by garlanding the statue of Ambedkar and, after passing through the main streets in the old city, it ended as flowers were offered to the statue of Basaveshwara. On its way, it had formed a circle at the jubilee circle crossing. Farmer leaders addressed the crowd there and announced that on January 26, when the farmers’ unions plan to take out a tractor parade in Delhi, similar parades will be organised with 2000 tractors in Belgaum, Hubli and Dharwad.
It was a clear signal that the farmers in Karnataka, a state where agriculture is the lifeline, are determined to join the ongoing farmers’ struggle. What was remarkable about today’s rally in Dharwad was not just its powerful symbolism, but also the unity among the farmers organisations. Northern Karnataka has seen in the past an extremely powerful farmers’ movement, the rayat-horat. People who watched the unity, symbolic power and the discipline in which the farmers conducted themselves were reminded of the earlier rayat movement that had rocked the Karnataka government.
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