Lucknow: After the historic 'long march' in Maharashtra and 'mahapadav' (mass sit-in) in Rajasthan, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) is now mobilising farmers in Uttar Pradesh to stand up for their rights. A prelude to it was seen in the state capital where a protest march was held on Thursday.
Experts say that the CPI (M)'s farmers' wing is trying to tap on the unrest and anger among the farmers. They say that increasing debt and menace of stray cattle due to cow vigilantism are one of the primary causes of discontentment among peasants.
"Yogi Adityanath government’s much-hyped Rs 35,000 crore loan waiver has not really helped the farmers. A major reason for it is that most of the farmers are dependent on loans from local money lenders and private players. Only a handful seek loans from government and cooperative banks. Also, the loan waiver scheme cover only kisan credit card holders," said Prashant Trivedi of Giri Institute of Social Studies, siting his recent research on UP’s agrarian crisis.
He further says that stray cattle menace has added to their existing problems. “Cow vigilantism and unthoughtful ban on slaughter of animals has left rural areas flooded with stray cattle. It in-turn has resulted in devastation of crops beyond unimaginable levels,” Trivedi said.
In fact, the professor points out that the present anger among farmers can help the Left retrieve their lost vote bank among the UP marginalised, which had shifted towards parties like the SP and BSP two decades ago.
Lucknow University professor Sudhir Panwar, who is associated with Samajwadi Party and runs Kisan Jagriti Manch, says that the 2019 election will primarily be on the issue of agrarian and farm crisis.
“Public expenditure on agriculture has gone down from 10 per cent in 2012 to just 2.8 per cent this year. BJP’s debacle in the bypolls on Wednesday was not just a result of caste consolidation due to SP-BSP understanding, but a reflection of the increasing anger and frustration among farmers and rural population,” Panwar says.
Claiming that BJP’s failure to deliver on their "tall promises" has led to farmers’ distress, AIKS UP general secretary Mukut Singh says that it’s time for farmers to unite. “Maharashtra and Rajasthan have definitely shown us the way, and the Sabha will now help Uttar Pradesh farmers to stand up for their rights,” he said.
The protest at Lakshman Jhula Maida on Thursday may not be as big as the one held in Mumbai, but thousands eagerly waited to listen to the top AIKS leaders, especially Ashok Dhawle, who was a part of the Maharashtra agitation.
“We don’t have too many resources like other parties for crowd management, but the sentiments of farmers across UP are certainly with us,” CPM’s state committee member Pradeep Sharma.