Buoyed with the success of Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat, the farmers’ are gearing up for Bharat Bandh on September 27, with the support of more than a hundred Dalits, women, youth, students, and most importantly, central trade unions. The farmers’ leaders maintain that there are efforts to bring 19 opposition political parties on board, to press further the issues of three central farm laws, a law on procurement of grains on the minimum support price, scrapping of four labour codes and New Education Policy. Ashok Dhawale, President, All India Kisan Sabha told Newsclick that, " the farmers have called for a third Bharat Bandh in course of nine months-long struggle only because the government have stopped listening to the farmers and bandh remains the last avenue to express their anguish". Dhawale was referring to the talks between the government and the farmers’ unions which ended unceremoniously in January this year, after the former declined to scrap the controversial laws.
He said,” through Bharat bandh, we want to express that the issue of farm laws are not only opposed by the farmers’ unions but different sections are also extending their support. The broadening unity also shows that this arrogant government is not listening to farmers. The workers, students, youth, women and members of the marginalised communities have similar complaints to make, regarding repressive labour unions and exclusionary new education policy. I am already getting reports from states that the markets would be shut and enraged people will be bringing traffic to halt”.
Dhawale added that, "the states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh have already held their conventions and apprised volunteers and people about the planned action. In Uttar Pradesh, 85 farmers’ unions came together, in Bihar, 15 organisations came together. In Maharashtra, we have already called our preparatory meeting in Mumbai on September 20. I am getting reports about similar conventions in Southern states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. So, we are expecting that an unprecedented Bharat Bandh would take place”.
When asked if the Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat has changed the scenario for farmers’ unions, Dhawale nodded and said,” the farmers’ are definitely buoyed with the success of the mahapanchayat where an estimated 1 million people participated. Dhawale, however, made another point and said that the success of the congregation has triggered anxiety among the ruling party. “Yogi is making Abba Jaan speech. They can only offer caste and communal politics. They are clearly becoming anxious now,” said Dhawale.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha- a collective of farmers’ organisations- said that several programs are being organized at all levels. On September 17th, meetings will be held in every district of Uttar Pradesh to plan for Bharat Bandh. Since the success of the farmers' movement in Western Uttar Pradesh, the movement is quickly spreading to the eastern part of the state. Farmers are determined to teach BJP a lesson in the upcoming elections.
A Kisan Sansad will be held in Jaipur on September 15, where farm unions from across the Rajasthan will come together to prepare for Bharat Bandh and raise the issues of farmers in the state.
Dr Ashish Mittal, General Secretary, AIKMS maintained that the ruling BJP has not only lost its base in western Uttar Pradesh but is also losing its supporters in Eastern UP. The region has been the stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party with Rajnath Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Keshav Prasad Maurya, Manoj Sinha hailing from the region. Mittal told Newsclick,” the senior leaders are altering their schedule because they are fearing backlash from people. In Allahabad, the lawyers have supported the Bandh. Even transport and tempo unions too have extended their support and they will stop their work. Trade unions are already part of the move. In neighbouring districts like Pratapgarh, Ballia, Mau and Bhadohi, people are too geared up. Overall, it will be a good show here despite BJP conniving with other elements to fail the attempt ahead of crucial assembly elections next year".
Talking about the preparations in Punjab and Haryana, Jagmohan Singh, Secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union Dakaunda told Newsclick that the efforts are in full swing to ensure that nothing comes in the way of the Bharat Bandh. He said,"we are already charged up. Since the people are involved in the movement, no political force can stop the historic bandh.” Farmers have made their opposition vociferous in recent times after the brutal lathicharge in Moga. Singh added that the recent struggle in Karnal and rally in Sirsa clearly suggests that they are fully prepared for it.