The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a Left-linked farmers’ union, and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), are planning to trigger a massive movement of farmers and workers across the country to dent the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll prospects in 2019. For this purpose, the AIKS and CITU have launched a fund-raising campaign. Sources said that “the timing of the agitation reveals the motive” of the AIKS and CITU.
A source close to the AIKS told The Sunday Guardian, “The AIKS and CITU together have launched a fund raising campaign in every district of the country and the campaign is gaining ground. These organisations are getting support from both Left and centrist parties. Most of the protests planned by AIKS and CITU will be held between August and December this year. The timing of the agitation has been chosen intentionally to create a difficult situation for the BJP in the coming general elections.”
The decision regarding launching a series of protests was taken at a three-day meeting held in Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu, the source said.
Speaking on the issue, Ashok Dhawale, national president of AIKS, said, “We are not conspiring; our agitation is not against the Right or Left. Our agitation is to give voice to the issues of farmers. It is a fact that the incumbent Central government has not done anything for farmers or workers in the past four years.”
“We have planned to launch a Jail Bharo Andolan from 9 August. Farmers and activists who are supporting the cause will offer to get arrested. Besides this, a signature campaign is also being launched in which AIKS members will submit 10 crore signatures to every district collector in the country. The second phase of the agitation will be launched on 5 September. In the second phase, agitators will march to Parliament against the BJP government’s anti-people activities,” Dhawale said.
“We have several basic demands which the BJP government has been ignoring. We want the Centre to implement the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee for fixing the minimum support price (MSP). The recent MSP announced by the Narendra Modi government is nowhere near the MSP recommended by the panel,” Dhawale added.
“We also demand a pension of Rs 5,000 for all farmers over the age of 60 years. They should have the right over land, and forced acquisition of land from farmers should not continue,” Dhawale added.
Vijoo Krishnan, secretary of AIKS, said, “The BJP-led NDA government had come to power riding a wave of popular discontent against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. Narendra Modi and the BJP manifesto had promised that the BJP would usher in achhe din for farmers and put an end to farm suicides, but farmers are still waiting for the good times.”
“It was promised that the Centre would increase public investment in agriculture and rural development, take steps to ensure a minimum of 50% profit over the cost of production, cheaper agricultural inputs and credit, latest technologies for farming and high-yielding seeds and link MGNREGA to agriculture, implement a farm insurance scheme to take care of crop loss due to natural calamities, strengthen and expand rural credit facilities, expand irrigation facilities, institute a price stabilisation fund to protect farmers from volatile world market prices and more. But ever since the BJP has assumed power, nothing has happened,” Krishnan told The Sunday Guardian.
The AIKS is opposing many key projects initiated by the Centre, including land acquisition for the proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.