About fifty thousand farmers from across the country including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh on Friday marched from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street in New Delhi to press for several demands, including loan waiver and higher crop prices.
In the massive rally, organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), the protesters shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre, alleging that it had failed to address their plight.
A plethora of Opposition leaders — including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, CPM general-secretary Sitaram Yechury — came together in a show of strength at Parliament Street as the BJP-led government emerged as the common enemy.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal and Farooq Abdullah at farmers protest in Delhi pic.twitter.com/ThHeMKGrpm
— ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2018
Here are the highlights from the march:
- Kejriwal demanded that the Centre allow the implementation of the Swaminathan report. "A country where farmers are hungry cannot succeed," said the Delhi chief minister. "BJP in last election promised to implement Swaminathan report but it didn't do that... Now in Supreme Court, the government has said that it cannot implement Swaminathan report," Kejriwal said. Kejriwal also said that farm loans have to be waived, adding that the crop insurance policy floated by the government is a "fraud". "The Pradhan Mantri Bima Yojana for farmers is fraud... this is not a 'bima yojana', this is BJP's daka yojana (dacoity scheme)," he said.
- Rahul Gandhi made a scathing attack on the Centre and said no one will be able to silence the voice of farmers and youth. "If this government can waive Rs 3.5 lakh crore loans of 15 big industrialists, why can't the loans of crores of farmers in the country be waived? I assure the farmers of India, we are with you, don't be afraid," he said.He added that the farmers were not seeking a "free gift" from the government by asking for a farm loan waiver but were only demanding their dues.
- Yechury called Modi a "pocket maar" as he compared the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah with the Kauravas in the Mahabharat. He said, "There were a hundred Kauravas but do you know any of the names other than two? Duryodhan and Dushasan. Same way BJP claims they have crores in their party, but people know just two — Modi and Shah. We, the Opposition, on the other hand, are like Pandavas who when together are like a fist." Yechury told the farmers that an alternative government would be able to solve their problems.
- According to NDTV, at the rally, a group of women hailing from Telangana whose farmer husbands had committed suicide, marched with pictures of their deceased partners around their necks.
- Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav lashed out at "anti-farmer Modi". While addressing the gathering, the former AAP leader said, "There are two mantras for farmers' liberation — learn to speak up, and identify your enemies, which should be easy, Yadav added, "The parties which are not present in the stage today are our enemies.""Farmers should speak up in a unified voice. No party is as anti-farmer as the present regime," said Yadav.
- Jammu and Kashmir National Conference chairman Farooq Abdullah urged the protesters to vote out the Modi government. "If you want to improve the future of this country, and of your children, you should vote this government out when elections are held," he said.
- As the rally arrived at the Parliament Street, Tamil Nadu farmers took off their clothes and used the skulls and bones of their "dead crop growers" to cover their private parts. According to a News18, about 1,200 members of the National South Indian River Interlinking Agriculturalists Association reached the national capital on Thursday carrying skulls of two of their colleagues who they claimed had committed suicide. Some were also spotted wearing a garland of dairy products.
- Farmers who were part of the 2017 Mandsaur protest left Madhya Pradesh after casting their votes in the 28 November Assembly election.The protesters complained on Friday that due to faulty policies of the Centre, farmers are dying under the burden of debt. Criticising the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, Kedar Sarohi from Harda district in Madhya Pradesh told Firstpost that the BJP-ruled state which boasts of development has no empathy towards the cultivators. Kedar, who was also part of the Mandsaur protest, said that the government tried to hide its own shortcomings.
- At least, 3,500 police personnel were deployed on the route of the march. Special arrangements were made in Central and New Delhi police districts. After the traffic came to a halt in Lutyens' Delhi due to large-scale farmers' protest, Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma said that multiple rounds of talks with protesting leaders were held, following which they were given permission to move to Jantar Mantar.
- Surrounded by criticism against its government's policies, the BJP — which had no representation at the farmers rally — attacked the Opposition parties for targetting it. Hitting out at the Congress, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference, "The 'naamdaar' family has done only one and only one task is corruption. Harassing farmers' land and pursuing their corruption has been the work of Robert Vadra and the entire Gandhi family. Robert Vadra is the biggest farmer in the Gandhi family who grows money instead of moong and masoor." He further claimed that the people of the country had abandoned Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal, and so their attempts would remain inconclusive.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Nov 30, 2018 20:50 PM