TN: Mahapadav in Chennai, Farmers and Workers sit Through Light Rains
The two-day protest commenced with trade union and farmers’ leaders raising slogans
Thousands of farmers and trade union members travelled to Chennai for the two-day perunthiral amarvu (massive sit-in protest) on Sunday. They raised slogans, giving a call for the end of the “anti-farmer” and “anti-worker” BJP-led government in the Centre.
A 200-metre-long row of tents was erected outside the Rajarathinam stadium in Egmore for the protest. The venue overflowed with people wearing badges with the names and symbols of their affiliated organisations. The venue and nearby roads featured flags of multiple organisations, emphasising the unity of the struggle.
The slogans raised by the participants included “Modi-government, corporate-led government, stop price-rise, contain inflation,” and “Central government, useless government, stop selling public sector undertakings, stop selling LIC, airports, electricity board, ports and railways.”
Nearly 100 leaders of various trade unions addressed the gathering from 10 am to 5 pm in the two days. It included transport workers, bank employees, electricity board workers, and IT and ITES sector workers.
They stressed on the 20-point charter of demands placed by the all-India united platform of farmers and workers. Many announced that this protest would not end without bringing down the Modi-led government for continuously betraying farmers and workers.
The gathering inside the tent remained intact throughout the two days.
The speakers said the only way to end the onslaught on the peasants and workers was by bringing about a change in government. They also insisted that this change should include a change in policies.
The Labour Progressive Front (LPF), the trade union affiliated with the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), also participated in the sit-in protest.
The protest at the national level was called for three days by the central trade unions and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, and posters and pamphlets were printed accordingly in Tamil Nadu. However, the police gave permission only for two days. The protest was shrunk, citing the rains.
The Tamil Nadu police did not give permission for the sit-in to continue into the night. Neither did the police give permission to protest outside Raj Bhawan, which was the national call.
The protestors sat through light rains over the two days, and observed that the weather had been kind to them. Notably, it had rained heavily till Saturday, but the sun was out on Sunday and Monday.
P Shanmugam, AIKS Tamil Nadu President, addressed the gathering
Following a year-long protest by farmers on the borders of Delhi, the BJP government promised to withdraw the three ‘black farm laws.’ The BJP also agreed in writing that the minimum support price for all produce would be announced and legislated, and all the farmers' loans would be waived.
Three years later, the accepted demands are yet to be implemented. SKM said that by not implementing the accepted demands so far, the government had "betrayed the farmers and backstabbed them."
On the other hand, the central trade unions observed that their hard-won workers’ rights and benefits have retracted in the last nine years of BJP rule. Meanwhile, the Union government is privatising the public sector in a way that encourages big capitalists and corporates.
The three-day sit-in protest was called by farmers and workers against the attack on peasants and workers, against the profiteering of big capitalists, and against privatisation of government undertakings.
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