Farmers’ Rally in Kolkata Calls to Resist “Pro-Corporate” Agri Policies
Huge aiks rally at rani rashmoni road in kolkata
Kolkata: Thousands of farmers joined a massive rally on Tuesday at the call of the All India Kisa Sabha (AIKS) West Bengal committee to thwart the “pro-corporate agricultural policies” of the Union government.
With placards and slogans accusing the Mamata Banerjee government in the state of implementing such pro-corporate policies of the Union government amidst a spate of farmer suicides, the protesting farmers also called for a unified peasants movement in the coming days in West Bengal.
Speaking at the rally, senior AIKS leaders of the country, including AIKS President Ashok Dhawale, General Secretary Vijoo Krishnan, Vice Presidents Hannan Mollah and Amal Haldar, cautioned the attendees that a communal atmosphere is being created in the state to thwart the farmers’ movement.
To counter this, from November 26 to 28, farmers will take part in a Raj Bhawan Abhiyan as a part of the movement, which will span across 30 states of the country, the leaders announced. The rally was held demanding an end to pro-corporate policies and to get fair prices for farmers’ produce in the state, as well as a just Minimum Support Price (MSP) for rice.
Forty-nine-year-old Shyamaprasad Roy, a farmer from Burdwan’s Raina 2 block’s Anguna village, joined the rally, clad in a white kurta and pyjama. Roy expressed his dismay at the developments in the farming sector in the state, saying, “I don’t know any other profession, and in this condition of farming, we are at a loss of what our alternative profession can be.”
He mentioned that he cultivates paddy on 17 bighas of land, some of which do not belong to him but are on yearly leases. He had harvested the Swarna brand of paddy on seven bighas and planted Khas paddy, also known as Gobinda Bhog rice, on the rest. Due to export restrictions, the Gobinda Bhog rice market has hit rock bottom in the state, and he received a price of only Rs 1400 per 60 kg sack for the Swarna brand of paddy this year.
The farmer added that the situation is highly precarious, as there are no alternative crops to cultivate. Pulse cultivation is also unprofitable, as pulses are procured from farmers at Rs 60 per kg and sold in the market at Rs 110 per kg, with intermediaries and TMC local toughs reaping profits, he claimed.
The condition of cultivation in the Burdwan district, also known as the “corn bowl” of the state, is also highly vulnerable. Jute is not cultivated there, but in areas where it is, jute farmers suffer significant losses due to rising fertiliser and electricity prices and increasing manufacturing costs while they do not receive fair prices for their products.
Speaking at the rally, Dr Ashok Dhawale, President of AIKS, criticised both the Modi and Mamata governments, labelling them as corporate interest-driven governments. He also claimed that for the past 12 years, the state had been looted by the Mamata Banerjee regime and alleged close ties between CM Mamata Banerjee, PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Senior AIKS leader Hannan Mollah, addressing the rally, stated that 500 organisations are fighting on a unified scale throughout the country against the apathetic attitude of the Union Government towards the farming sector, a sector of immense national importance. He called for nationwide protests against the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and the resignation of Central Minister Ajay Mishra. Mollah also emphasised the need to expand the Delhi-centric movement across the country while tackling the TMC’s “goondaraj” in West Bengal.
In his speech, AIKS General Secretary Vijoo Krishnan pointed out that the current spate of suicides in West Bengal is a new phenomenon that has emerged in the last 12 years. He cited the example of the Kerala government, which provided a Rs 800 subsidy and purchased paddy at the rate of Rs 2850 per quintal from farmers, contrasting it with West Bengal, where farmers are forced to sell paddy at rates as low as Rs 1200 to 1300 per quintal. Krishnan criticised both the Modi and Mamata governments for their treatment of farmers.
On September 18, an AIKS Central Office Bearers team visited Bhadurala in Salboni block, West Medinipur district, to meet the widows and families of Left martyrs allegedly killed by the TMC-Maoist combine, as well as the families of potato farmers who recently committed suicide due to the price crash. The team included AIKS President Dr. Ashok Dhawale, Vice Presidents Hannan Mollah, Inderjit Singh, and Biplab Majumdar.
Another AIKS central office bearers team, comprising General Secretary Vijoo Krishnan, Finance Secretary P. Krishnaprasad, Vice Presidents Amal Haldar, Pavitra Kar, and Vinod Kumar, Joint Secretaries Valsan Panoli, Badal Saroj, Awadhesh Kumar, and Dr Ajit Nawale, visited East Bardhaman district and met the families of deceased cadres and suicide-affected peasants.
The AIKS Central Office Bearers meeting was held at the Comrade Harekrishna Kongar Bhawan in Kolkata on September 17.
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