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Maharashtra farmers’ rally: How CPI(M)’s Kisan Sabha won the day

The All India Kisan Sabha opened its doors for organisations of all hues and backgrounds, showed considerable flexibility in joint protests.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2018 07:21 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Farmers protest,Maharashtra farmers protest,Live updates
Over 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra, who embarked on a ‘Long March’ from Nashik on March 6 to press their various demands, reached Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Monday. (Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

The CPI(M)’s farmer front’s success in leading the protests in Mumbai on Monday was based on doing exactly what its parent party would not do, according to a party member.

The All India Kisan Sabha opened its doors for organisations of all hues and backgrounds said its general secretary Hannan Mollah, adding, “We want these farmer protests to help in defeating the anti-farmer NDA government in 2019. But political dividends can come only if there is an organisation. Where the Left parties are not strong, other pro-farmer, secular parties should benefit.”

As the farmer protests swelled in Maharashtra, Mollah, a politburo member of the Left party, said he requested party general secretary Sitaram Yechury in Tripura to rush to Mumbai on Monday. Yechury’s presence added political colour for a rattled CPI(M) when its space is shrinking in electoral politics.

Banking on the “success” in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and now Maharashtra, the AIKS plans to organise a joint, pan-Indian political programme with trade unions towards the end of this year, said Mollah. If it happens, it will be the first ever all-India movement by farmers and labourers.

“Such a programme has never happened on the national level. We also want to time it ahead of the 2019 elections,” said Mollah.

The Kisan Sabha takes a state-specific approach to tackle the wide range of farm sector problems, said Mollah.

“In India, there are wide differences in states in terms of crop pattern, use of fertilizers, irrigation facilities and marketing issues for farmers. So, one size fits all policy won’t work,” he added.

While the Kisan Sabha agitates on several demands, it showed considerable flexibility in joint protests. As it leads an umbrella organisation of the All India Kisan Sangharsh coordination committee —a body of 192 organizations — the Kisan Sabha has kept just two demands on the table — complete loan waivers for distressed farmers and setting up an MSP at one and a half times of the cost of production (C2 formula).

“Many organisations may not be interested in all our demands. So, we reached a middle ground,” said Mollah.

This too, is in stark contrast with the approach of the CPI(M), pointed out a member of the farmers’ body. “In the political front, we prefer to lay down a set of rules for all possible alliances or pacts,” the leader quipped.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 23:45 IST