Even as the farmers’ protest continues at Delhi’s borders, the Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is on a one-day hunger strike on Friday in solidarity with the protesting farmers. The parties intend on various forms of protest until the three Farm Laws are withdrawn, according to the demand of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
The state government led by the AIADMK – a BJP ally – denied permission for the hunger strike. The AIADMK continues to support the three controversial laws as it did in Parliament. The AIKSCC has decided to hold a massive rally next week in Thanjavur against the laws.
‘Withdraw Anti-Farmer Acts’
The opposition parties in the state have been attacking both, the Centre and the state government, for pushing the laws. The SPA allies continue to oppose them and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
M.K. Stalin, president of the DMK and opposition leader in the state assembly, questioned the urgency with which these laws were bulldozed through in the Parliament. “The BJP government has been using the COVID-19 pandemic to its advantage and passing bills at the behest of corporate players. No consultations were held with the farmers before the three farm Bills were proposed,” he said during the protest.
“The farmers are protesting amid chilling temperatures at the borders of Delhi and the union government continues to neglect their genuine demands. We will stand with the farmers until these acts are withdrawn,” Stalin assured.
A number of leaders from the opposition parties – Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)]), Communist Party of India, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Vaiko, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by Thol Thirumavalavan MP, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi – are participating in the hunger strike.
Earlier in the day, tributes were paid to farmers who have lost their lives at the borders of Delhi ever since the farmers’ protest began on November 26.
‘Stop Branding Protestors’
Many leaders of the BJP, including union ministers, have branded the protests as orchestrated by the Left parties and branded the protesters ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘Maoists’. The leaders condemned the propaganda by the BJP and AIADMK leaders.
“The urgency with which these farm bills were passed in the Parliament and the President’s approval raises doubts over the beneficiaries of such bills. The farmers are protesting against such draconian laws braving the cold weather in Delhi, but the government is branding as anti nationals and Maoists, which is condemnable,” Stalin said.
The AIADMK ministers are echoing the opinions of BJP leaders and union ministers, the SPA leaders said during the protest. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) claimed that only middlemen were protesting the three laws while ‘real farmers’ are supporting them.
S. Venkatesan, the CPI(M) MP from Madurai, said: “The ruling parties are propagating that the protests are being held by middlemen in the farm sector. But as long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Palaniswami are in power, no other middlemen can exist”.
Meanwhile, farmers from Salem hoisted black flags in different villages in protest against the state government supporting the Chennai-Salem green corridor project.
‘AIKSCC to Hold Massive Rally’
The AIKSCC has decided to move forward with different protest programs against the Farm Laws after a three-day long sit-in protest concluded on December 16. Member organisations attached to the AIKSCC are planning a massive rally demanding the withdrawal of the laws next week.
P. Shanmugam, state general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said: “We have decided to conduct a massive rally of farmers in Thanjavur in the coming week. We are expecting at least 25,000 farmers will participate in the rally to reiterate our demands”.
Meanwhile the CPI(M), VCK and different trade unions and civil society groups held solidarity protests across the state and called for the withdrawal of the three laws. CPI(M) and VCK cadres held demonstrations against the “pro-corporate” policies of the BJP government and called for a boycott of the products by the Reliance and Adani groups. The new Farm Laws are in favour of these two companies and are against the farmers, they alleged.