To escalate pressure on the BJP-led government, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws, on Tuesday (March 2) announced that they will send teams to election-bound states to campaign against the BJP.
Elections to the assemblies of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, West Bengal and Puducherry, will be held from March 27 to April 29.
“We will not ask for support for any particular party, but we will appeal to people not to vote for the BJP,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, the Punjab head of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). “We will tell people that the Modi government is not treating farmers fairly, and counter the propaganda of the BJP,” he added.
“This government only understands the language of elections, of votes, of seats. So we will go to all the five poll-bound states,” said Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav.
In Bengal, the campaign will kick off on March 12, when SKM leaders will take part in a farmers’ rally in Kolkata, he said, adding that campaign vehicles will also go to all assembly constituencies in the state “to tell people the reality of what is happening to farmers”.
Earlier, BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait had hinted that the protesting farmers will take the agitation to poll-bound West Bengal if the Centre does not concur with their demands against the new farm laws.
The SKM has also announced that it will stage a five-hour blockade of the Kundli Manesar Palwal Expressway connecting various protest sites outside Delhi on March 6, which marks the 100 days of the farmers’ protest at the borders of the national capital. The protest has been slotted from 11 am to 4 pm and toll plazas will also be freed up from collecting toll fees.
In the rest of India, the day will be marked by flying black flags on houses and offices to signify support to the movement, and to protest against the government. SKM has also asked protestors to wear black bands on that day.
SKM will observe March 8 as Mahila Kisan Diwas on International Women’s Day. “All SKM protest sites across the country will witness greater participation of women on that day, and it will be women who will manage the stages and will be speakers. SKM invited women’s organisations and others marking International Women’s Day on that day to do so in support of the farmers’ movement and highlighting the contributions of women farmers to the country,” said Rajewal.
The SKM also plans to launch the “MSP Dilao Abhiyan” all over India. “As part of the campaign, the reality of price discovery of farmers in different markets will be showcased, pointing out to the Modi government’s shallowness of its MSP promises. The campaign will be initiated in the south Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to begin with. Farmers all over the country are invited to join this campaign,” said Yadav.
On March 15, along with Central Trade Unions who are marking the day as ‘anti-privatisation day, SKM will support the call of trade unions by marking the day as ‘anti-corporatisation’ day and extend solidarity to the protests of trade unions on that day all over India.