New Delhi, Dec 7, 2020-
In the wake of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ or nationwide strike called by the farmers over the contentious farm laws on Tuesday, the Opposition parties have lent their support to the call while the government has issued an advisory to the different states and Union Territories to tighten security and maintain peace and harmony.
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) said on Monday that the Bharat Bandh on December 8 would start at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. as they don’t want to cause inconvenience to the public.
BKU Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said, “The Bharat Bandh will begin at 11 a.m. and continue till 3 p.m. on Tuesday.”
During the bandh, essential services will not be curtailed and office-goers can move freely, said the BKU spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Union government has sent an advisory to the different states and UTs to tighten security and maintain peace and harmony within their respective territories.
“The state governments and UT administrations must ensure that the Covid-19 guidelines with regard to health and social distancing are strictly followed,” the Home Ministry advisory read.
Different parties such as the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, DMK, Nationalist Congress Party, CPI, CPI-M, CPI-ML, RSP, AIFB and Telangana Rashtra Samithi have extended their support to the farmers who are demanding that the new farm laws be repealed.
However, the Trinamool Congress, which has been at the forefront in opposing the farm laws in the Parliament, has decided not to go with Tuesday’s Bharat Bandh call.
Party MP Saugata Roy said, “TMC stands in solidarity with the farmers, but will not support the Bharat Bandh in West Bengal as it goes against our principles.”
Earlier, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee had tweeted, “I am very much concerned about the farmers, their lives and livelihood. GoI must withdraw the anti-farmer bills. If they do not do so immediately, we will agitate throughout the state and the country. From the very start, we have been strongly opposing these anti-farmer bills.”
A joint statement was issued by the leaders of different political parties on Sunday, which read: “We, the undersigned leaders of political parties, extend our solidarity with the ongoing massive struggle by the Indian farmers organised by various kisan organisations from across the country and extend our support to their call for a Bharat Bandh on December 8 demanding the withdrawal of these retrograde Agri-laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill.”
The BSP and Shiv Sena have also supported the bandh.
Earlier in the day, Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was put under undeclared house arrest and by afternoon he was arrested and taken away by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
The arrest came as the number of party workers and supporters swelled outside his house and the former Chief Minister came out and sat on dharna outside the gates of his residence.
“The government cannot muzzle the voice of the farmers. If the police want to arrest me, I am ready to go to jail. My party will continue to fight with the farmers for their welfare. The police have arrested and detained SP workers across the state. We are fighting to double the income of farmers, as earlier promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he told reporters.
Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday extended support to the Bharat Bandh call and assured that his party workers and supporters would participate in the ‘peaceful’ protests.
Kejriwal made the announcement while visiting the Singhu border on the Delhi-Haryana route — one of the protest sites where thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana are on continuous sit-in since November 26 demanding the abolition of the three contentious farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
It was Kejriwal’s first visit to any of the farmers’ protest sites. During his visit, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor said, “My government’s and party’s support is with the protesting farmers.”
He further said that AAP supporters and MLAs were continuously trying to provide maximum help to the farmers here and expressed hope that the farmers would get a solution to their demands very soon.
Meanwhile, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that some political parties are trying to vitiate the atmosphere and their doublespeak on the issue of farmers should be exposed.
Adityanath said that the opposition parties are placing their guns on the shoulders of the farmers to shoot at the government.
He said that the stand taken by the opposition parties, particularly the Congress, on the APMC Act has exposed the double standards of these parties.
“The Centre has taken revolutionary steps in agricultural reforms that safeguard the interests of the farmers. But the opposition is trying to spread misinformation to mislead the farmers. During the UPA regime, all these parties had announced their support to the APMC Act, but now they have taken a U-turn,” he said.
The Chief Minister further said that parties like Akali Dal, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party had supported the APMC Act, but now they are showing double standards.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters Association has come out in support of the Bharat. Various taxi and bus operator associations from Delhi had marched to the Singhu border on Sunday to express solidarity with the agitating farmers.
The Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters Association President said, “On December 8, we will not run our taxis and buses and peacefully show our solidarity in making the farmers’ movement successful by making the Bharat Bandh a success.”
Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and the All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) said on Monday that their members will not participate in the ‘Bharat Bandh’, adding that the government should though look into the farmers’ demands and resolve the issues at the earliest.
Both the associations said in a joint statement that their members in commercial markets across the country will open their premises and conduct business as usual and run normal transport services on December 8.
Even the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has distanced itself from the Bharat Bandh. The BKS said in a statement, “The Bhartiya Kisan Sangh has decided to remain aloof of the Bandh call and appeal to its members all over the country to be attentive and alert the fellow citizens so that any untoward incident may be avoided. We hope that the nation and the farming fraternity will sincerely cooperate with the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh.”
The BKS, an RSS affiliate, said: “It is evident that some anti social elements ,external forces and some political parties are manoeuvering this demonstration towards acrimony.”
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh are protesting along the borders of the national capital against the three new agricultural laws introduced by the Central government.
Meanehile, a bitter feud erupted between Maharashtra’s ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.
The latest row has been triggered by a 165-page letter written by NCP President Sharad Pawar in 2010 when he was the Union Agriculture Minister for the second time in the then UPA-II government.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress – which has supported the ‘Bharat Bandh’ – of adopting “double standards” merely to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre.
“Bahut log behti Ganga mein haath dho rahe hain,” said Fadnavis, while pointing out that at 8 states including Maharashtra are already implementing 2 or all the new farm laws in some way or the other.
Hitting back, the NCP said that when the Model APMC Act 2003 was introduced by the then NDA government of Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee, many Indian states were reluctant to implement it.
“When Pawar became the UPA Agriculture Minister, he attempted to form a broader consensus among the State Agriculture Marketing Boards by soliciting suggestions for implementing the Act,” said NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.
Even the Congress slammed the BJP over the APMC Act saying that its accusatory stunts will not work and withdrawing black laws instead of wrongly blaming the Congress is the need of the hour.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said the “BJP must realise that their overused, stale, repetitive stunts of blaming Pt Nehru and UPA will not end farmers protest. Farmers who feed the entire nation are fed up of BJP’s anti-farmer policies. Congress only wants one thing: ‘MSP Ka Haq-Kisan Ke Haath Mein Rakh’.”
The Congress spokesperson raised many counter-questions and asked what reforms will happen by removing MSP. Did Congress speak about APMC reforms by abolishing MSP, he asked.
The Congress said if the new laws are pro farmer why is the BJP failing to convince the farmers and attacking the farmers with lathis and water cannons?
Even the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which has been voicing the concern of farmers has cancelled its three-day programme to mark the beginning of its centenary celebrations in view of the ongoing agitation by farmers, party leader Daljit Singh Cheema said.
On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the three farm laws enacted by the NDA government at the Centre were not anti-farmer, but reflective of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to ensure the welfare of the ryots.
Even the Azadpur Mandi, one of the largest mandis in Asia, has decided to support the Bharat Bandh call guven by the farmers.
As the fifth round of talks could not lead to any breakthrough, both the sides — farmers’ representatives and the government — have agreed to continue the dialogue on December 9.
The fifth round of talks between the government and the farmers’ leaders remained inconclusive on Saturday with both sides adamant on their stand over the three contentious farm laws. The farmers have asserted that the protest will continue if the government doesn’t repeal the three farm laws. (Agency)