Close on the heels of the completion of nine months of protests against the farm laws, the farmers are now set to stir once again as they prepare for a 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' in September.
Union leaders are mobilising support across the country for the September 5 Kisan Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Various ‘khaps’ in the western part of the state are engaged in its preparations.
Significantly, many of these khaps have their differences and maintain a distance from each other. But according to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella of protesting unions, they have “decided to bury old differences in a few khaps and work together for the success of the event”.
“We have already decided to reach out to the villages and tell people about the ground realities. The schedule and details of future struggles will also be discussed,” said farmer leader Yudhvir Singh.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) general secretary did not rule out a widespread political campaign against Bharatiya Janata Party candidates in the poll-bound states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
However, they will not seek votes in favour of any particular candidate, he asserted.
A similar exercise was undertaken during the West Bengal assembly election early this year.
Meanwhile, farmers have started gathering at Delhi’s Singhu Border for a national convention of SKM to be held on Thursday and Friday.
According to the SKM, the convention is meant to expand as well as intensify the movement all over the country. “It is expected that around 1,500 delegates from 20 states of India will take part in the convention,” said a statement.
“It will approve a plan of action as per the suggestions which come from participants for intensification and expansion of the movement all over India,” it added.
According to farmer leaders, arrangements are being made to put up participants from other states at the Singhu border itself. The SKM expects representation from about 20 states.
The event will comprise five sessions, three on Thursday and two on Friday. Each session will address issues like challenges faced by industrial workers, agriculture labour, rural poor and tribal people.
There will also be sessions revolving around women, students, youth, and other sections of working people, according to the SKM statement. The Muzaffarnagar Kisan Mahapanchayat is also expected to be discussed at the convention.
It will also deliberate on supporting resolutions on other issues such as the new labour codes, MNREGA, rise in prices of fuel and fertilizers, attack on women, privatisation of education, displacement of Adivasis, attack on the business of small shopkeepers, and land acquisition and land rights, said the SKM statement.
Similar congregations are being planned elsewhere too.
In Jharkhand, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) will organise a state-level cadre convention in Ranchi on September 12. A ‘Rajbhawan (Governor’s residence) Kisan March’ will also be held on October 4.
In Chhattisgarh, a state-level ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ is being planned On September 28 at Rajim, in Gariaband district.
In Bihar, farmer unions will hold a ‘Kisan Satyagraha Padyatra’ from Champaran to Varanasi. This will begin on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on October 2 and is expected to end on October 19.
Incidentally, leaders of 19 opposition parties earlier decided to jointly organize protests all over the country from September 20 to 30. Among their demands is also a call to repeal “the three anti-farmer Laws and compulsorily guaranteeing & giving MSP to the farmers”. It further pledged: “We, the undersigned, reiterate our support to the struggle launched by the farmers under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha”.
The SKM also noted that “the RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) which has written to the Prime Minister asking for a legal guarantee of MSP for all farmers, failing which it threatened to launch a nation-wide protest. BKS issued an ultimatum saying that it will hold district-level agitations on September 8th if the Modi Government does not give an assurance on enacting an MSP guarantee law by the end of this month”.
Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be decided on the basis of cost, and a new law should be formulated, keeping in mind the concerns raised by farmers, to resolve the dispute arising out of the new farm laws, BKS said Tuesday.
While the farmers have expressed apprehension over the laws doing away with MSP, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations, the government has been projecting the laws as major agricultural reforms. Over 10 rounds of talks have failed to break the deadlock between the two parties.