Thousands of farmers have marched to the national capital demanding better implementation of farm debt waiver, minimum support price, and urging the nation to understand their plight. This is their fourth, but definitely not the final march demanding a discussion on farmer’s issues in the Parliament.
The farmers’ movement gained a wider traction after seven farmers were shot dead while agitating outside a mandi in Mandasaur, Madhya Pradesh one-and-half years ago. The agitation in Mandasaur was part of a nationwide uprising of farmers after two consecutive drought years.
However, this time around the demand farmers put in front of the leader of the house and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is simple—hold a discussion on the two private members bills in the Parliament namely, Freedom Indebtedness Bill and Farmers Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill.
The two Bills, together known as the Kisan Mukti Bills, were introduced in the Parliament as private member’s bills by Raju Shetti, Swabhimani Paksha MP from Maharashtra and K.K. Rajesh, Rajya Sabha MP from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Kerala, in the monsoon session of the Parliament, earlier this year.
This farmer’s protest platform has already received the support of 21 political parties, including some NDA partners in the past. The BJP has so far not supported the AIKSCC and the prime minister has refused to speak on the issue of farmers’ distress in the Parliament so far.
Farmers from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh came in trains, buses and other modes of transport converging at the Ramlila ground to join the protest. The AIKSCC claims that this rally is “one of the largest congregations of farmers” in the national capital in recent times.
Police have made elaborate arrangements for the rally in Delhi, with at least 3,500 personnel deployed along the route.
For the first time, a cultural gala evening was also organised at the Ram Lila Maidan by the farmers. Titled as ‘Ek sham kisano ke naam’ (one evening for farmers), the event was attended by leading folk artists and troupes from Punjab, Odisha, Telangana, Maharashtra and North East.
“Farmer’s distress has become our social distress and people realise it. In Mumbai, different people like small traders, residents, students, and even autorickshaw drivers chipped in to provide food and travel to the farmers. Doctors from Jamnalal Bajaj hospital came down to the streets to treat people,” recalled Pratibha Shinde of Lok Sangharsh Manch, who conducted the farmer’s march from Nasik to Mumbai, earlier this year.