A number of opposition parties have come out in support of Tuesday’s “Bharat bandh“, which has been called for by farmer unions gathered around Delhi borders for nearly two weeks now to protest against the centre’s new farm laws.
“It will be an emphatic ‘Bharat Bandh‘ on December 8,” Prem Singh Bhangu, the President of the All India Kisan Federation, said Saturday evening after a fifth round of talks with the centre broke down over the core issue – the farmers want the farm laws to be scrapped, but the centre is unwilling to do so and will only consider amending the more contentious sections.
The “Bharat bandh” will also see farmers blocking national highways and occupying toll plazas, the Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Harwinder Singh Lakhwal was quoted by news agency PTI.
The Congress, Bengal’s ruling Trinamool, the RJD, the Samajwadi Party and several Left groups have all backed the farmers’ bandh call, as have Tamil Nadu’s DMK and Telangana’s ruling TRS.
This morning Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government has provided emergency infrastructure to farmers camped around city borders, said the AAP “fully supports” the bandh.
“The Aam Aadmi Party fully supports the ‘Bharat Bandh‘ call. There is an appeal to all countrymen that everyone should support the farmers and participate in it,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to test the farmers’ patience. “Pick your pen, apologise to ‘anndata (farmers)’ and annul the black laws immediately,” he tweeted this morning.
In Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin, DMK chief and Leader of the Opposition, led protests and criticised the centre for “haste” in passing the laws during a pandemic. Also from Tamil Nadu, actor-politician Kamal Haasan has sent a 10-member team from his Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) to Delhi to express solidarity with the farmers.
Telangana’s ruling TRS will also back the bandh call, with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao extending “total support” and urging farmers to continue protests till all three laws are repealed.
Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress said it will extend “moral support” to farmers and stage sit-ins in various areas in the state for three days. Party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said the state would also seek the immediate withdrawal of the farm laws.
The Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), CPI (Marxist-Leninist), Revolutionary Socialist Party and All India Forward Bloc made a joint statement.
“The Left parties extend their solidarity with and support to the ongoing massive agitation by kisan organisations from all over the country against the new agri laws. The Left parties extend their support to the call given by them for a ‘Bharat bandh‘ on December 8,” the statement said.
In Patna, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav held a protest and pledged to support the farmers.
Apart from political parties, activists from the Bharatiya Kisan Union held protests at many places in Haryana and burned the effigies of the central government.
The “Bharat Bandh” has also been backed by a joint forum of trade unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS).
Farmers and the centre will meet for a sixth round of talks on Wednesday.
With input from ANI, PTi