The Secular Democratic Front (SDF) in Tamil Nadu held huge protests across the state today (September 28), against the farm bills recently passed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government. The united protest led by the principal opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) saw massive participation in reportedly around 3,500 centres, including rural areas.
The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 have been approved by the President of India, in spite of strong objection raised by the opposition parties.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) after supporting the bills in both the houses, is facing the ire of the farmers, along with strong anti-incumbency and internal squabbles. The AIADMK was left red-faced after its Rajya Sabha member opposed the bills and then voted in favour, giving the opposition parties a chance to trade guns against the government. The DMK and its allies have stepped up the attack further on both the Union and state governments.
The three farm bills, which are being propagated by the ruling parties to be drafted in favour of the farmers, have found little takers. There is a growing fear among the farming community about the removal of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement of the produces by the government.
The DMK president led the protest held in a village in Kancheepuram and demanded the withdrawal of the three bills. The farmers are facing a ‘two-pronged attack’ from the state and Union governments, he alleged.
"The BJP and the AIADMK are continuously putting the farmers under stress through different projects and acts. While the AIADMK is trying to implement the eight-way green corridor road project, to cite an example, the BJP is worsening the conditions of the farmers by enacting such draconian acts,” said M K Stalin.
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He also demanded the state government to oppose the proposal of the Union government on conducting feasibility tests about introducing BT-Brinjal in eight states including Tamil Nadu.
“The Chief Minister who claims to be a farmer and the Prime Minister who repeatedly insists on his humble background are forcing the farmers under severe hardships,” Stalin added.
“The government of Tamil Nadu should follow our neighbouring state, Kerala and approach the Court against the farm bills. If the government fails to do so, the opposition parties will take up the legal struggle,” he added.
The state secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), K Balakrishnan, while addressing a protest said, “The rulers are trying to shunt our farmers from agriculture and hand over the sector to the corporate players. We have to understand that India is now governed by the corporates through Narendra Modi.”
The AIADMK government has continuously supported the bills and accused the opposition of misleading the farmers. Refuting such claims, Balakrishnan added, “The removal of major food grains from the essential commodities list will only encourage mass hoarding resulting in an artificial demand. Such activity will lead to massive price rise and the farmers and consumers will be left to suffer, while the corporates can earn huge profits”.
The state general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, P Shanmugam, ridiculed the manner in which the bills were sneaked through in Parliament. “The President of India has worked even on Sunday to accord approval to the bills. It is high time that we start another round of mass struggles against the corporatisation of agriculture among many other privatisation policies of the BJP government,” he said.
“The basic elements including MSP and the procurement of farm produce by the government have been unaddressed, sending a wave of disappointment among the farmers. The bills as a whole are set against the farmers and in favour of the corporates,” Shanumugam added.
The leader of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Thol Thirumavalavan, while addressing a protest in Cuddalore, said, “The bills play against the farming community since it paves way for corporatisation of production and sales of produces. The act also snatches away the rights of the state governments which is against the federal structure.”
The protest today was preceded by massive road blockade by various farmers organisations on September 25, which was called on by the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Associations.
Also watch: Farmers Rise in Protest Against Farm Bills