Mumbai: Pushed by the Narendra Modi government’s ‘adamant’ stance and efforts to suppress farmers’ voices, the feeders of nation or annadatas have given a call for countrywide protests on May 26 – marking the completion of six months of their sit-in on Delhi’s borders against the three farm laws. The call is being supported by 12 key Opposition parties, and is set to make a mark in Maharashtra for sure.
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) will protest at district collector offices as well as tehsil offices on Wednesday. They said they will follow all norms of COVID-19. The AIKS protest is likely to be impactful in Palghar, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Satara, Beed, Osmanabad districts, where its support base is strong.
"Our volunteers and members are ready. We will protests at offices as well as major locations. The Modi government thinks that it can muzzle our voice. But these protests will show them that farmers of this country won't bow before them," said Kisan Gujar, state chief of AIKS.
Another strong farmer organisation -- Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana – has also given a protest call. Its leader and former member of Parliament, Raju Shetti, said he had spoken to his party workers across state and they are planning to join the protest at prominent locations in every district.
As the organisation is mainly strong in Kolhapur, Sangli, Solapur, Amravati districts, it is expected that the protest will be significant here. "This protest is another alert to the Modi government. Our agitation won't end until the three controversial farm laws are scrapped. (Prime Minister) Modi and his BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) will have to pay a political price for not listening to us," said Shetti.
Meanwhile, a group of about 200 NGOs and organisations, called Jan Andolan ki Sangharsha Samiti (JASS), jointly addressed the media on Monday, announcing their plans to intensify the protest on May 26.
"Due to COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, our protest was toned down for some days. But the Modi government should not think that it is over. It can't defeat us with regular tricks," said their leaders. JASS workers and activists are planning to mobilise in Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nanded and other prominent cities.
JASS has also widened the scope of the protest. As the Modi government completes seven years, JASS is planning 'Lok Jagar Saptah' to awaken people regarding Modi's “pro-corporate, anti-people” policies.
"For the entire week, we will reach out to the people in various ways, like social media, and try to explain them how this government has helped its cronies. We will also try to explain to the people how this government is encroaching upon their freedom, their rights systematically," said Vishwas Utagi, convenor, JASS.
Political parties, too, have decided to actively support the protests. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said party activists will join the protesters all over Maharashtra. The Nationalist Congress Party and Congress leaders have decided to protests independently. "To avoid more crowds, we have decided to hold an independent agitation. Our party has already supported the protest. We will actively hold sit-in agitations across the state," Congress state president Nana Patole said.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government has also appealed to the protesters to follow the COVID-19 protocol. State home minister Dilip Walse Patil said he would speak to various farmer leaders regarding the protests.
"The state is now recovering from COVID-19. We are with farmers and all the organisations that have been against the three new farm laws. But we need to take care while protesting due to COVID-19. I am sure that farmers of Maharashtra will understand our position," said Walse Patil.