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Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk 

Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.
Stating that the unity of workers and farmers was “fortified”, it said in a statement, the successful Bharat Bandh helped “isolate” the Prime Minister who had sought to “divert attention towards communal, religious disputes.” How concerned is the Union government can be seen from the fact that the Prime Minister has been sending ministers to the agitators at Shambhu border for ‘secret negotiations’, and a Minimum Support Price (MSP) committee has been formed with members openly opposed to giving MSP.
Asking the Union government to send perpetrators of Lakhimpur Kheri massacre to jail, SKM said, it woulld intensify agitation till achieve MSP, loan waiver, and policy change to end farmers’ suicide, even as scheduling the Punjab unit meeting on February 18th followed by the National Coordination Committee and General Body meeting in New Delhi.

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The anger of farmers against the corporate and communal policies of the Narendra Modi government  boiled over with their huge participation in the Grameen Bharat Bandh, a call given along with industrial / sectoral strike jointly with the Joint Platform Central Trade Unions, independent federations, associations and other organizations of workers, women, youth and students. The strike action reflected anger of the people against the brutal repression by the Modi government and the BJP led state government of Haryana on the farmers at Shambhu Border of Punjab marching to Delhi. One of the largest ever mass actions of the people in independent India has helped to bring back the people’s livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the forthcoming general election to the Lok Sabha.
While in Punjab the protest became almost a Bandh, in all other states and Union territories shops, industries, markets and educational institutions, government offices remained closed in villages. Massive demonstrations and protest rallies have been organised in which lakhs of people have participated with enthusiasm. Workers struck work and organised massive demonstrations, students joined them by boycotting classes while youth and women also participated widely.
In Jammu Kashmir, hundreds of apple farmers demonstrated in the Press Colony, Srinagar. They were forcefully dispersed by the Police and para military forces dragging the leaders into police vehicles and taken to Custody without any provocation. 
This massive action helped to fortify the farmer-worker unity across India and further advance it towards unity of the people up to village, town level is the greatest achievement in the fight against corporate -communal nexus under the patronage of the Modi government.
The Grameen Bandh call was in continuation of the demands for MSP@ C2+50% with guaranteed procurement, reduction in input costs, debt waiver, repeal Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 and no to prepaid meters, dismiss and prosecute Ajay Mishra Teni, Union MoS (Home), the main conspirator of Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers among others. It was preceded by coordinated and joint call with workers of Black Day observation on 3rd October 2023, three days Mahapadav protest on 26-28 November 2023 in State Capitals and a massive tractor – vehicle rally in districts on 26th January, 2024.
SKM has decided to immediately intensify agitation and it shall be done with multiple calls for massive actions in coordination with workers and all other sections of the people. The SKM Punjab unit is meeting on February 18th at Jalandhar and it will be followed by the meetings of NCC and General Body at New Delhi to take stock of developments and suggest future course of action. 
They will be finalized along with the central SKM and shall be determined by the response of the Government of India. SKM declares, shall not allow the indictable of Lakhimpur Kheri massacre to be spared and farmers all over India shall fight tooth and nail building towards such a resolute movement to send them to Jail and achieve MSP, Loan Waiver and end farmers suicide.
SKM had sent a polite and written appeal to the Prime Minister of India on February 13, asking him to be sympathetic and considerate to farmers who are suffering farm losses, distress, debt, unemployment, while farm labor suffers severe hunger, failure of treatment and deprivation.
It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister has shown full sympathy to the corporate companies, but has unleashed repression on farmers with lathi charge, pellet firing, tear gas sprays, use of drones, road blockade, house to house threats and continuing with a ‘war like approach’ towards the farmers. SKM condemns even more vehemently the injury caused to three farmers in Shambhu, who have lost their vision. The Modi government is blinding the farmers to serve the exploiting big businessmen.
The Modi government has deliberately vitiated the atmosphere on farmers issues and hoodwink people into believing that he is truthful and sincere. He promised a committee to consider MSP and other demands in December 2021. Seven months later he formed one with those who were openly opposed to giving MSP and he added crop diversification and zero budget natural farming on its agenda.
Now, in the name of talks, he is mocking negotiations by sending ministers to the agitators at Shambhu to fool the people and keeping the points and progress in the discussion ‘secret’ thus putting the farmers of the entire country in the dark. SKM raises questions over BJP’s policy of stubbornness towards solving basic problems of people and diverting their attention towards communal and religious disputes. SKM fought this on January 26th, 2021 and is determined to unite the people across India to achieve victory.
SKM expresses its gratitude to all CTUs, other organizations of workers, student, youth, women and cultural activists for having extended strong support and hopes that we, together shall build a stronger movement on these demands and advance towards replacing the pro- corporate policies with pro-farmer, pro-worker and pro-people policies.

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