Patna: A different type of campaign is going on in Bihar’s capital Patna to create awareness and mobilise people to support and join the protesting farmers who are demanding repeal of the three farm laws. This campaign in solidarity with protesting farmers is attracting people to the state's largest urban centre, which is surrounded by rural areas.
Ignoring the biting cold and cloudy weather in the third week of January, the All India Peoples Forum has initiated the campaign "Kisano Ke Saath Hum Patna Ke Loga" to reach out to people through street corner meetings at different places in Patna.
"We launched a people’s campaign under the banner of All India Peoples Forum two days ago. Our aim is to make aware and mobilise people from all sections of society in Patna to support and join the protesting farmers against farm laws,” said Ranjeev, who has been working with farmers as a water activist in the flood-prone Koshi and Gandak river basins in the state.
Ranjeev said the week-long people’s campaign was started on January 19 and it will end on January 26, which is Republic Day. Every day, as per the campaign programme, street-corner meetings are being held in different residential localities, near markets and busy crossings.
Ghalib, another activist associated with the campaign, said that prominent people from political, theatre and cultural fields, including poets, singers, teachers, doctors, students, youth and workers have been participating. "At the corner meetings, we are singing revolutionary songs, reciting poems, and staging street plays followed by speeches to create awareness among people about farmers protesting against the farm laws and motivating them to support the farmers in their struggle," said Ghalib.
Both Ranjeev and Ghalib said that they were inspired by the nearly two-month-long farmers’ protests near Delhi borders, which have been following the Gandhian principles of peace and non-violence. They said there was a need to mobilise support for the movement in Patna.
"There is misinformation among common people in urban pockets that farmers have been protesting for their self-interest only, thanks to TV news channels. The fact is that the farmers' protest is directly connected to consumer interest and safeguarding democracy. This is what we are putting before people through our people’s campaign,” they said.
On the first day of the campaign, a street corner meeting at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chauraha near Gandhi Maidan was addressed by Prof. Daisy Narayan of Patna University, social activist Rupesh and poet Upanshu. Then the second day, a corner meeting at Chowk Shikarpur near Patna Sahib Railway Station was addressed by Dr Vudharthi Vikas, organic farming activist Ishteyaq and poet Balmukund.
Further, Citizens Forum, a civil society body in Patna, will organise a meeting (Ekjuta Sabha) near Buddha Smriti Park on January 21 to express solidarity and support to protesting farmers against Farm laws.
Similarly, farmers will hold a big tractor rally on January 26 in Araria district in support of the protesting farmers in Delhi. There are reports of a farmers’ tractor rally that will take place in Samastipur district the same day.
The opposition Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in Bihar has started campaigning at the grassroots level to garner support for the call to form a human chain on January 30 in support of the farmers.
The Opposition’s call, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and the Left parties, aims to intensify the protests against the farm laws in the state.
Meanwhile, the Left parties have organised several protests against the laws in recent days, in view of the fact that nearly two-thirds of Bihar's total population of about 12 crore is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Most of them are small and marginal farmers, as per government data.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, Awadesh Kumar said that the party has been mobilising people on the issue and staging protests at block and district headquarters.
CPI (Marxist Leninist) leader Dhirendar Jha said party workers and leaders, under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, have been staging dharnas in different districts in support of protesting farmers and mobilising people against the contentious farm laws.