Skip to main content

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.


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.



IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

How huge crowd at Mukhtar Ansari funeral is comparable to BJP's 'people's court' talk

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The massive crowd at the funeral of Mukhtar Ansari in Mohammadabad reflects the power and influence that his family wields in the area. One can't deny that he had enormous power in Ghazipur and Mau districts. But the crowd that came and chanted slogans in his favour does not exonerate him of his conviction by the court.  It is important that we understand this. 

'Critical for cultural and ecological security': Ladakh women seek statehood, self-rule

By Our Representative Six Ladakhi women from different organisations in the region, who concluded their 10 day fast, have told an online press conference that it is necessary to provide statehood to Ladakh, even as declaring the region under the 6th schedule, for “deepening democracy, preserving ecology, and for survival.” Feminists across India joined the media meet in solidarity with the Ladakh movement “for 6th schedule, statehood and justice.”