Farmers, labourers rally against Modi govt; demand pro-farmer policies

Farmers and workers are marching from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street for a public meeting. The protest is against the government’s “anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national” policies

Photo credit: Bhasha Singh
Photo credit: Bhasha Singh

NH Web Desk

Farmers from all over India have gathered in New Delhi on September 5. Most of them were part of the Kisan Long March to Mumbai in March. The rally was organised by the All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All-India Agricultural Workers' Union (AIAWU).

There are approximately three lakh farmers, workers and agricultural workers that unions affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) hope to mobilise for the rally, in the Capital against the government’s “anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national” policies.

Camps have been constructed at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, as well as in Ghaziabad, to house the protesters who were pouring into the Capital from September 3. They are marching from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street for a public meeting.

"Until now there have been separate rallies of workers and farmers in the country, but never a joint rally. This would be first such effort.

"This rally would identify the real enemy of the toiling masses and spread a political message of change for the coming general elections," Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader Tapan Sen told reporters. While the focus of the rally is on policies and not politics, CITU general secretary Tapan Sen clarified that it will still have an impact at the polling booth.

The demands being brought forward include debt waivers and an implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for a more comprehensive minimum support price for crops.

These are two of the major demands of the rally, along with a demand to universalise the public distribution system and ban forward trading in essential commodities in a bid to curb price rise. Other demands include minimum wage of at least ₹18,000 per month and an end to anti-worker labour law reform, a universal social security, food security, health, housing and education.

“This is a historic rally as it will be the first-ever joint demonstration of this magnitude in the Capital that brings together three important sections of society who actually play a major role in producing the wealth of the country,” said AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah.

Mollah said the recent arrests of activists will also add momentum to the protests by bringing in growing support from other sections of society. He said no political parties had been invited for the event, but all are welcome to attend.

“We oppose neo-liberal policies, communal divisive agenda and authoritarian attacks of the BJP-led government at the Centre,” said Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) president K Hemalata.

Rising prices, increasing unemployment for the rural poor and failure to keep electoral promises with regard to agriculture, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and rural housing were all factors that turned the masses against the government, said All India Agricultural Workers’ Union president S Thirunavukkarasu.

The leaders called upon the people to join the rally and appealed them to build an India "free from exploitation and discrimination on caste, communal and gender lines".

This article was edited to rectify a grammatical error

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Published: 05 Sep 2018, 1:53 PM