ON the morning on 30 November, the farmers started arriving at the Ramlila grounds. Various cultural teams sang in solidarity with the farmers. One big attraction was the songs by Bhojpur people’s poet Krishnakant Nirmohi. As soon as he began singing revolutionary songs at the Kisan Mahasabha counter, farmers as well as media-persons leapt in that direction. From 9 am farmers started lining up behind their organisations with their posters, flags, banners and placards. Red flags were prominent in the march, and along with green, yellow, blue, white and other coloured flags the long lines of farmers gave the appearance of a veritable rainbow. At 10.30 am the farmers’ rally came out on the road from the Ramlila grounds and began their march. The road was filled on both sides with farmers. The spirit and enthusiasm of the farmers during this 3 km march was remarkable. In continuity with the movement which has been going on for the past two years, this was the fourth huge 2-day farmers’ march at the call of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti (AIKSCC).
Marching in front under the banner of the AIKSCC were its Convener VM Singh, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Maula, All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh, Lok Morcha leader Pratibha Shinde, Kisan Sabha Ajay Bhavan General Secretary Atul Anjan, Jai Kisan Andolan President Yogendra Yadav, Maharashtra Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetty, Karnataka farmer leaders Chandrashekharan and Kiran, Tamil Nadu farmers leader Aiyyakannu, Kisan Sangharsh Morcha leader Dr Sunilam, Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha leader Ashish Mittal, Bharatiya Kisan Union Dhakonda leaders Darchan Pal and Kavita, Jai Kisan Andolan leader Abhik Shah and all other prominent AIKSCC leaders. Behind them marched thousands of farmers raising slogans. Various cultural teams as well as the Delhi AISA team marched in the midst of the farmers, inspiring them with revolutionary songs. Members of trade unions and civil society and army veterans also marched with the farmers in solidarity and support.
On reaching Parliament Street the march was turned into a public meeting. The entire Parliament Street was covered with farmers. The first session of the meeting was fixed for speeches by kisan leaders and was addressed by all prominent leaders associated with the AIKSCC. Addressing the session, senior journalist P Sainath (who played an important role in enlisting the support of civil society for the farmers’ struggle) and Veteran Soldiers Association President Satbir Singh, pledged to march shoulder to shoulder with the farmers in their struggle.
All the farmers pledged to stand united in their fight against the Modi government’s betrayal and cheating of farmers. They said that they would give a befitting reply in the 2019 elections by throwing out this anti-farmer government and sending the maximum number of pro-farmer MPs to Parliament, so that the government would always be under pressure from the farmers’ and workers’ struggles. Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh said that the fight for loan waiver and 1 ½ times MSP started by us must now be extended to Food Security and PDS so that no more Santoshis die of starvation. He said that while the population is growing, agricultural land is constantly being brought under acquisition; the Modi government has failed on all fronts and cannot show a single achievement for their 5 years in power. Now they want to raise the Ram Mandir issue again and spread communal venom and divisiveness in order to divert the real issues. But farmers have resolved to give a fitting reply to the BJP’s divisive politics. The Kairana bye-election result is a shining example of this resolve.
The second session of the meeting was fixed for political parties which supported the 2 Bills drafted by the AIKSCC and already introduced in Parliament as private Bills: the Farmers’ Freedom from Debt Bill and the Remunerative Prices Bill. The AIKSCC had invited all parties and their leaders to enlist their support for these Bills. CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya was the first to support these Bills at the meeting. The meeting was also addressed by leaders from many Opposition parties including CPIM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, J&K former CM Farooq Abdullah, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, RJP National President Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, Samajwadi Party MP Dharmendra Yadav, and TDP MP K Ravindra Kumar. All these leaders assured the farmers that they would include passing of these Bills and all other farmers’ demands in their forthcoming election manifestos.