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After TMC, Akali Dal reaches out to Shiv Sena; bats for farmers, federalism

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Mumbai, Dec 6, 2020-
Indicating Maharashtra’s eminence in national politics, a delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal on Sunday met Maha Vikas Aghadi Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other leaders, seeking support for the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the cause of federalism.

Led by ex-MP and SAD General Secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra, the Akali delegation discussed the new farm laws, the agitation by peasantry on the Delhi borders and the manner in which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre was allegedly weakening the federal structure of India.

They urged Thackeray to join a meeting of major Opposition and regional parties from around the country in New Delhi scheduled within a fortnight to draw out the future strategy.

Thackeray assured that he would attend the meeting and also expressed full support to all programmes in the farmers protest over the farm laws.

“The (Maharashtra) CM has said he will support the farmers’ agitation and also attend the meeting in Delhi a couple of weeks later,” said a delegation member afterwards.

Slamming the Centre, Sena’s ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar – who will call on President Ram Nath Kovind on December 9 evening – said that when the agricultural Bill were getting passed in Parliament in September, the opposition parties had urged the central government not to rush through.

“We had requested that a discussion is needed; it should be sent to a Select Committee. But that didn’t happen and the Bills were passed quickly. Now, the government is facing problems because of that haste,” Pawar said without mincing words.

State Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat reiterated that “we are fully with the farmers in this do-or-die battle for justice against the central government”.

Shiv Sena’s farmer face Kishore Tiwari attacked the Centre for allegedly trying to crush the ongoing farmers’ agitation and warned that there was “no option but to revoke the obnoxious farm laws”.

“The BJP is now forcing women, senior citizens, farmers and children to leave the venue. Why? After 101 years, is there a plan to repeat (Brigadier) General (Reginald) Dyer’s style of trigger-happy solution to the farmer crisis?” Tiwari asked grimily in social media posts.

His obvious reference was to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919 when around 379 people were shot dead by the British Indian Army’s on the orders of acting Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, later nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Amritsar’.

On similar lines, scores of trade unions, social and farmers organisations are gearing up to participate in the upcoming ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8) for which a series of meetings are planned.

“We want maximum number of people to observe the ‘Bharat Bandh’ for the cause of the farmers and other anti-people policies of the BJP-led Union government which are detrimental to the progress of the country,” remarked Vishwas Utagi, Trade Unions’ Joint Action Committee Convenor and the ‘bandh’ coordinator in the state.

Several regional and national opposition parties, including the Congress, have already announced support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by various farmer organisations to seek revocation of the new agricutural laws.

The meeting of SAD – a former constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre – with Thackeray, is part of the efforts to work for a national-level united political front to oppose the BJP-led NDA.

“All the regional parties feel the need to unite against the dictatorial attitude of the NDA government. It is the need of the hour if we are to protect our federal structure. If the states become weak, the Centre will also weaken. Since a strong opposition is lacking, many feel the needs for a united front,” Chandumajra added.

Earlier, the SAD delegation had met Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Biju Janata Dal leaders, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.

Maharashtra BJP’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis criticised the ruling MVA, saying there is “no opposition to the farm laws” in the state.

He contended that various aspects of the new farm laws were introduced by the Congress-NCP during its rule in the state, and the current MVA regime is now playing politics on the issue instead of working for farmers’ interests. (Agency)

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