Bhopal: Even as Madhya Pradesh government is patting its back over providing ‘maximum benefits to farmers’, a 67-year-old farmers' union leader claimed that the incentives introduced by the government are an "eyewash", and they are committed to dislodge Shivraj Singh Chouhan from power. The disgruntled farmers have planned a protest on Friday, a year after the violent MP stir.
Alleging that measures like farm loans on 0% interest have not benefited farmers, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh national president Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’ said, “I dare anyone from RSS or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to tell us a single pro-farmer measure implemented in the 15-year rule of the saffron party.”
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh is an umbrella organization representing over 100 farmers’ unions of the country.
Speaking to News18 ahead of the farmers’ stir on June 1, Sharma, who had organised last year's MP farmer protests, claimed that farmers are undergoing the worst phase and the “43% surge in suicides” describe their state of affairs in the country.
The leader also dismissed the National Crime Record Bureau data, which states that 36,000 farmers committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh in 14 years. “If investigated in detail, it could actually be around 60,000 as we all are well aware about the botched-up police probe in the cases,” he said.
Sharma claimed that when he spoke to a group of 700 farmers in Dhar village, none of them said that they backed CM Chouhan for another term.
“Even when I asked that does he (CM Shivraj) deserve another chance being a farmer’s son, not a single farmer responded affirmatively,” he said.
The leader claims that farmers in Madhya Pradesh are extremely tormented and don’t want CM Shivraj back in power.
Interestingly, Sharma had a fall out with the Chief Minister in 2012 when Chouhan removed him as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) state head.
When the leader was asked on his tiff with the CM, he said, “During a protest in Bareilly, the state government conspired to eliminate me, jailed me and slapped me with 12 cases including nine under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. I was put behind bars 55 times. It was then that I vowed to uproot the government.”
Despite BKS being an-RSS backed organisation, Sharma is extremely vocal about his views against the state government back in 2012.
The 67-year-old crusader, who identifies himself as a socialist fighter waging a war against establishment for the last 50 years, had risen to prominence last year during farmers’ unrest in Madhya Pradesh and was seen as the chief architect of the agitation.
Accusing RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS)-MP government for the violence witnessed during the last year’s agitation, the veteran leader claimed this time they have changed the format of the stir. “It’s a gaon bandh this time where farmers would stop coming to towns and cities for selling their products for ten days so there is no question of law and order trouble.”
They claim of not having any plans to cause inconvenience to the public so the farmers would keep their shops on the boundaries of urban areas and anyone who wishes to buy anything could come and shop.
“There is no one to lead this agitation and it’s a public agitation,” he said. To oppose the ‘unholy pact’ inked by BKS last year, the protesters would observe Vishwasghat Diwas on June 5, would pay condolences to the farmers killed in Mandsaur on June 6 and hold Dhikkar Diwas on June 8 against brutal bashing of two farmers on this day last year.
The former BKS president, however, blamed his former organization – BKS- for the Mandsaur firing last year.
Till June 3, BKS did not support us and flinging a surprise announced support on June 4, he said adding the organization backed by RSS on June 5 inked a pact with CM Shivraj in Ujjain on June 5 unilaterally forcing us issue disclaimers. This was the reason Mandsaur farmers called and told me that they would take out a peace march on June 6 to convey a message that the agitation was still on.
“Policemen asked three-four farmers to come over for a dialogue and opened fire in planned manner,” said Kakkaji claiming the mob turned violent only after five of their colleagues were shot down in Mandsaur.
Blaming BJP-RSS for triggering violence last year, the farmer union leader claimed he has 47 years of experience in protests and on the basis of he could say that the rulers tend to cut short any agitation and for doing so they incite violence from protesters’ side.
Asked what immediate measures are needed to relieve distressed farmers, Kakkaji claimed that earlier they used to raise 40-50 demands which were never met but after the formation of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh which had 50 farmers’ bodies from across the country during the inaugural meeting in Bhopal, they decided to focus on basic issues including offering farmers 1.5 times return on input, a one-time loan waiver to peasants and inclusion of milk, vegetables and fruits producers into Minimum Support Price.
“We are now co-ordinating with legal experts to make sure that how the manifestoes of political parties are brought into legal domain and breach of these announcements post electoral win bring de-recognition to the parties.”
The elderly leader brushed aside speculations of his agreement with Congress. “I haven’t met Congress MP president Kama Nath and Patidar leader Hardik Patel in my life.”
All through my life, I have fought the establishment and when the BJP is in power, I am branded as a Congress-man and I am called an RSS-affiliate when I fight the Congress in power, he claimed.
The farmers’ leader who has been touring the state in connection with the agitation however urged leaders including from BJP-RSS to cut across political lines to extend support to farmers’ cause if they are serious about the demands of the farmers.