Farmers from Kerala, who have also been on an indefinite Satyagraha for two weeks against the three Farm Laws, expanded their protest to include each district centre in the state from Wednesday. The farmers, under the banner of Kerala Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi, had launched an indefinite protest at the Martyrs’ Column in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram on December 12.
The relay satyagraha by the Samyuktha Karshaka samithi, which consists of various farmers’ organisations, including Kerala Karshaka Sangham (Kerala chapter of the All India Kisan Sabha), Karshaka Congress and other organisations, has been gathering support. Solidarity has come from all corners of life. On Wednesday, ruling Left Democratic Front leaders took part in it.
Inaugurating the satyagraha at Martyrs’ Column on Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the NDA government at the Centre. He alleged that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was
protecting the interests of corporates and not farmers, and demanded a withdrawal of the three contentious laws.
Stating that the ongoing farmers’ agitation was one of the fiercest and most iconic among protests ever witnessed in the country, Vijayan said it was farmers who provide food and their demands should be taken care of in the general interest of the nation.
Vijayan came down heavily on the controversial Farm Laws a day after Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan declined approval for a special assembly session (planned on Wednesday) by the Left government to discuss and pass a resolution against them. However, the chief minister, in his brief speech, did not refer to the suspended special assembly session or the widely criticised act of Khan denying approval for the session.
“The BJP government at the Centre is not upholding the interest of farmers. They are giving importance to the interest of corporates above all. The Centre should be ready to accept the demands of farmers,” the Chief Minister said.
He further pointed that if there was any scarcity of food articles in the country, it would affect all states, including Kerala, and hence the agitation should not be seen as confined to any particular area alone. “Our state is still not self-sufficient in many areas. So, if there is any shortage of food articles, the crisis would affect all states, including Kerala. As we are also part of this country, the farmers’ issues will affect us also. That is why we have decided to support (them) and be a part of the agitation,” he said.
Earlier, K.N. Balagopal, state secretary of Kerala Karshaka Sangham, said: “It is not just the farmers’ struggle; the entire state will be affected by the Farm Laws. Since Kerala is a consumer state, the laws, especially the Essential Commodities Amendment Act, would affect the food security of the state.”
On Wednesday, an array of Left Democratic Front leaders, including CPI (M) state secretary A. Vijayaraghavan, CPI leader Panyan Raveendran, JD (S) leader Mathew T. Thomas, Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K. Mani, ministers E.P. Jayarajan, A.K. Saseendran, J. Mercikutty Amma, V.S. Sunil Kumar and others were present at the event.
Khan's decision on Tuesday had evoked a sharp response from the government with Agricultural Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar calling it
“undemocratic”. Opposition Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said it was unfortunate and against “democratic values”. However, the state BJP had welcomed the governor's action, saying the attempt to pass a resolution against the laws passed by Parliament and given assent by the President was unconstitutional.
The decision to convene a special session was taken in the backdrop of thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, camping at various borders outside Delhi for four weeks and demanding that the three laws be repealed.
The farmers are apprehensive that the new laws will pave the way for a dismantling of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism and the mandi system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. However, the Centre says that these fears are misplaced, without elaborating on their concerns.
With PTI Inputs