Kisan Mahapanchayat: Ensure MSP or face consequences in polls, farmers warn Centre

The farmers' mega rally, held weeks before the announcement of Lok Sabha polls, witnessed a turnout of approximately 50,000

A section of the gathering (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)
A section of the gathering (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)

NH Political Bureau

Two years and three months after compelling the Narendra Modi government to withdraw three controversial farm laws, India’s most influential body of farmers’ unions — the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) — convened a mahapanchayat (mega gathering) in the heart of Delhi on Thursday, issuing a stern warning to the Modi government to act on MSP (minimum support price) or face political repercussions in the upcoming general elections.

The mahapanchayat, held weeks before the announcement of Lok Sabha polls, witnessed a turnout of approximately 50,000 farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, all unanimously pledging to overturn the Modi government in the upcoming elections.

Delhi Police had allowed the farmers to hold the mahapanchayat on condition that the size of the gathering would not exceed 5,000, and no tractor trolleys were allowed. But proceedings remained peaceful.

Addressing the gathering, Rakesh Tikait, leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and a prominent figure in the farmers' agitation, lambasted the Modi government as a government of liars, and refuted claims propagated by the government in the media that farmers had been invited for talks, asserting, "No proposal for dialogue came from the government after 2021."

"Today the farmers of the country are suffering the consequences of the government's wrong policy and dictatorship...This agitation not going to end" Tikait said.

Without naming anyone but with Gurnam Singh Chaduni standing just behind him on the dais, Tikait accused the Centre of engineering a split within the SKM and called for unity among the unions. He also branded the BJP-led government "not a government but a corporate syndicate", operated by corporate lackeys.

Chaduni, who had parted ways with the SKM to form the Sanyukt Sangharsh Party, recently led a protest alongside farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher demanding MSP. He mobilised farmers for a march to Delhi, which, however, was thwarted in Haryana by the BJP-led government's police action against the protesters.

Chaduni, who came to extend his support to the mahapanchayat, addressed the farmers, emphasising that the demand for MSP is not aimed at enriching farmers individually but rather at safeguarding the nation. "We came here to protect the nation that Bhagat Singh envisioned," he said.

Vijoo Krishnan, leader of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and a vocal critic of the Modi government, who organised a 200 km-long Kisan March from Nasik to Mumbai in 2018, declared that the time has come to oust the anti-people government..

He asserted, "Woh keh rahe hain abki baar 400 paar, hum keh rahe hain abki bar tadi paar (they are talking about 400-plus seats this time, we are saying expel them)."

Questioned about how permission for the rally was obtained for the mahapanchayat, SKM leaders responded that owing to the impending Lok Sabha polls, the government is reluctant to appear to be taking an anti-farmer stance.

A group of farmers from Rajasthan’s Sikar who arrived on Wednesday night, expressed bewilderment over the government's reluctance to concede to the demand for MSP, considering that it entails no financial implications.

The SKM, formed as an umbrella organisation of several farmer unions to spearhead the protest against the contentious farm laws [now repealed] vowed to escalate the struggle against the Centre's policies.

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