Thousands of farmers from various parts of the country came together in Delhi on November 29th and 30th, breaking all barriers of caste, religion or economic class between them, to make their distressed voices heard by this ‘deaf’ government and the nation. The farmers were in Delhi to participate in the Kisan Mukti March called by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella platform formed by around 200 farm organizations spread across the country.
The prime demand of this march was to hold a special joint session of parliament to pass two bills assuring farmers ‘rights’ to get fair minimum support price and to get freedom from indebtedness formulated by the AIKSCC.
A massive gathering of farmers holding flags, raising slogans against the insensitivity of this government towards farmers and agitating in various creative ways like singing protest songs and playing traditional musical instruments began their march towards parliament on the morning of November 30th from the Ramleela Maidan. The march reached on parliament street at around 1 pm where leaders of AIKSCC including the convener of AIKSCC, V M Singh, member of parliament Raju Shetti, veteran journalist P Sainath and Yogendra Yadav addressed the gathering. Later in the day many opposition party leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar came forward to support the demands of farmers and addressed the march.
No representative from the government came forward to deliberate on the demands raised by the farmers. Member of AIKSCC Yogendra Yadav talking about the outcome of this march said, “This march will change the political language in our country and the coming elections will be fought on farmers question” adding “due to this march, the government and the right-wing organizations including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has come under great pressure to act on the problems faced by farmers of this country.”
Some farmers coming from Andhra Pradesh took train journey of around 30 hours. Photo: Rushikesh Gawade
When Indie Journal asked Yogendra Yadav about what will happen to the demand for the special session of parliament, he said that the AIKSCC will be ready to give up the demand for special session of parliament, if the government is ready to pass those two bills in a regular session.
Almost 21 political parties have registered their support for the two bills assuring farmers a profitable MSP and freedom from indebtedness. Member of Parliament Raju Shetti, who was instrumental in formulating the two bills said after the march that he will try to table these two bills in the next session of parliament beginning on December 11 as private member’s bills and with 21 political parties supporting them, the government will come under pressure to act on the demands of farmers. “We are raising the demands of farmers in a constitutional way with these two bills, the government should either point out the fallacies in that or should accept them” he said adding, “The next prime minister of India will be decided by the farmers of this country.”
VM Singh in his passionate address to the farmers criticised this government for its ‘Jumlebaazi’. “Farmers are not sitting idle to come on the roads again and again demanding their rights or they are not fools to kill themselves but they have come under huge distress due to false promises of this government”, he said. Concluding his address he said, “Every farmer returning from here today will return back home as a force in himself.”
Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal were on the same page in supporting farmers saying the farmers were not asking for any gifts but are asking for their rights.
Farmers from all over the country had travelled to Delhi to participate in this march with whatever means available to them. Some farmers coming from Andhra Pradesh took train journey of around 30 hours sitting in general compartments with many farmers having no space to sit. AIKSCC had made arrangements of accommodation on 28th November for the farmers coming from outside Delhi at four places around Delhi. On 29th, food for the farmers was made available at Gurudwara Mata Sundariji Sahib near Ramleela maidan where convener of AIKSCC sardar VM Singh also participated in the langar with the farmers.
Photo: Rushikesh Gawade
Along with farmers, many landless labourers also participated in the march acknowledging the connectedness of farmers distress with other marginal sections of society. Ashok Kumar, a landless farm labourer from Debusarai district of Bihar, said, “If the farmer does not get good price for their harvests, from where we will get our wages?” adding, “We have came here with the farmers hoping that along with the farmers, the government will take some steps to ensure fair wages for us”.
Participation of people coming from the middle class was also remarkable in this march. A member of All India Insurance Employees Association, who had come from Chennai to take part in the march, talking to Indie Journal said, “livelihood of no one can be fulfilled without the Kisan so we feel that it’s our moral duty to support them.” While the march concluded without any expectation of a special session of the parliament, it was successful in reminding Delhi of its actual priorities in times of a communal build-up before the 2019 general elections.
Rushikesh is a Pune based journalist and covers agriculture, politics and international affairs.