‘Golden day in India’s history, victory for democracy’: Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the protests by farmers against the three farm laws for over a year is a lesson on how to struggle while calling the Centre’s decision to repeal the legislation as historic as India’s Independence Day. He added the move has immortalised the sacrifices of over 700 farmers, who died during the agitation against the laws.
“Today is a golden day in India’s history. It is like Independence Day and Republic Day. Today the central government had to bow down before the farmers’ movement and to repeal all three black farm laws. This is not just a win for the farmers; it is the victory of democracy. The farmers have made every government realise that in a democracy, they have to listen to the people. Governments have to bow down to the people. Arrogance would not work,” said Kejriwal hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his government will repeal the laws.
“Today’s day is a lesson for our country’s children and the youth that no matter how difficult and long a struggle is, if we fight peacefully and with the right intentions, there will be success.” Kejriwal said the farmers’ struggle united the nation as everyone, including labourers, women, traders, youth and shopkeepers, participated in it. “From Punjab to Uttar Pradesh and from Bengal to Kerala, the entire nation stood up for our farmers. Even people outside the country supported the movement. People rose above caste and religion to join the fight and in the end the Centre had to bow down before them.”
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has supported the farmer protests, which began in Punjab, where the party emerged as a significant force in 2017 elections. He visited the farmer protest site at the Singhu border on December 7 last year to review the arrangements made there. On December 8, when the protesting farmers called for a Bharat Bandh, Kejriwal said he wanted to visit Singhu but was put under “house arrest”. On December 27, he visited Singhu again to participate in a cultural event organised by the Delhi government. After that in February this year, he addressed a farmer gathering in Meerut. Kejriwal criticised the Centre after a convoy of cars, including one belonging to Union minister Ajay Mishra, ran over farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. The violence that the mowing down of the farmers triggered left eight people dead.
Kejriwal on Friday criticised the Centre for the delay in repealing the farm laws and added it tried every means to end the farmers’ protest. “The Centre, its agencies and the entire system tried hard to end their protests. They called our farmers terrorists, (separatist) Khalistanis and anti-nationals. They tried everything to break their grit. This was a freedom struggle for the farmers. Even water cannons dried out, batons failed... Still the Centre could not break their confidence and spirit.”
Kejriwal referred to the death of over 700 farmers during the agitation and added this could have been avoided. “Their lives could have been saved if these laws were repealed earlier. Our farmer brothers and sisters would not have had to brave the biting cold and the sweltering heat, had this happened earlier. So many families were destroyed. There would hardly be a movement this long and massive in world history.”
Kejriwal’s deputy, Manish Sisodia, also congratulated the farmers. “Your one year long peaceful movement has forced the government to bow down. The central government had to bow down before the martyrdom of hundreds of farmers. The government should also seek apology from families whose members have passed away during this farmers’ movement,” Sisodia tweeted.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh called the move to repeal the farm laws a win of farmers over the Centre’s wrongdoings.