Opposition party leaders have taken a conscious decision to stay away from protest sites, Left leaders said on Tuesday as they extended their support to farmer groups who have called a nationwide bandh against the farm laws. The government has accused the opposition parties of supporting the farmers protest for political gains, an allegation denied by the parties, which said that the demands of the farmers were legitimate.
"It is a conscious decision on our part to stay away from the protest sites. The farmer groups themselves also told us that they would want it this way. So, we have no party banners at the protest sites. "However, our MPs are there, as parliamentarians, to show solidarity. We do not want to politicise the issue. It's not just the Left parties, but all opposition has taken this call that except MPs no leader will join the farmers," said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Yechury said that party workers are at the spot, but without party posters or banners. However, at the protest sites, banners of politically aligned farmer groups and other trade unions could be seen on display.
CPI general secretary D Raja also said that the farmers' agitation was completely non-political and the absence of political leaders at the sites was a decision taken to highlight that. "We are not sitting at any of the borders because we have decided not to make this struggle political. We are there with them every step of the way. Our workers are there and all our party units are holding rallies and demonstrations. We don't want to politicise it," said Raja.
A nationwide strike called by farmer unions against the Centre's agri laws was underway on Tuesday with rousing speeches and sloganeering at Delhi's border points amid tight security arrangements, even as most of the city's markets remained open.
Protesting farmers have threatened to block key roads and occupy toll plazas as part of their call for a 'Bharat Bandh' to press for repeal of the new farm laws.