From Dandi, India begins another march, this time against Modi’s megalomania and dandaraj, say farmer leaders

India had suffered exploitation and devastation by the British East India company. We don't want a West Indian company Raj now, peasant leader told Bengal voters

Kolkata: On the 91st anniversary of Gandhiji’s historic March from Sabarmati to Dandi in coastal Gujarat for Salt Satyagraha to defy the arbitrary and monopoly salt laws of the British Raj, farmers from Punjab- Haryana and other states of northern India today issued an open letter to their Bengal brethren to defeat Narendra Modi’s BJP in the coming assembly polls in the state.

Farmer leaders in Bengal

They urged Bengal voters to ‘teach BJP a befitting reply in order to make Modi listen to farmers demands to repeal three farm laws ‘which are aimed at imposing a postcolonial Company Raj by the prime minister’s crony corporates, mainly, Ambanis and Adanis.

Mahatma Gandhi undertook his history Dandi March on this day in 1930 for more than a month awakening the spirit of fearless non-violent civil disobedience movement among Indians masses against the violent and arrogant British Raj. The defiance of the Raj monopoly on the collection and sale of salt brought global attention to India’s freedom struggle and rekindled the national mood to a new height. Both Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar spoke on the Import of the historic day and its connection to the grassroots people’s movements against the unresponsive and repressive Modi government.

“India had suffered the exploitation and devastation by the British East India company. We don’t want a West Indian company Raj now,” Hanan Mollah, one of the key SKM leaders of Samjukta Kisan Morcha and CPM politburo member said. The same refrains were echoed by other SKM leaders from Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, both at a press conference in Kolkata Press Club and later in a public meeting called Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat at Ramlila Maidan in Central Kolkata.

bengal elections kisan mahapanchayat farmers
People at Kisan Mahapanchayat, Ramlila Ground, Kolkata

Vote for any other party except BJP

Regarding Bengal polls, the leaders made it clear that they are not supporting any particular political party or alliance against BJP during their campaigns in the state. The bitter contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and Left-Congress-ISF alliance for anti-BJP space in Bengal has turned the state election into a tri-cornered fight.

“We are only asking voters to punish BJP and the Modi government for betraying the popular mandate. Modi is serving the Corporates only. His government is selling out all the national properties, from agri-business to airports, Railways, banks and insurance companies to the domestic big groups and multinational corporations,” Balbir Singh Rajewal from Punjab said.

Atul Anjan, Amarjeet Singh and Rajaram Singh were among others who addressed the meetings.

The visiting leaders representing farmers – on prolonged dharna since November at Delhi borders have planned to distribute the letter among voters in 294 assembly constituencies across Bengal before the latter cast their votes in between 27 March and 29th April. The farmer leaders will also visit the other poll-bound states including Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well as the union territory of Puducherry. The letter in English and other state languages will be distributed there too. Results of the polls will come out on 2 May.

bengal elections kisan mahapanchayat farmers
A Kolkata-based activist Nousheen Baba Khan expressing her solidarity with farmers at Kisan Mahapanchayat

See the Excerpts from the farmers’ letter to their Bengal brethren

The letter, written as an appeal from an individual farmer says: “Dear Kisan friends in Bengal, you don’t know me. We haven’t met. You may have seen me in the throngs of people on the TV. For more than a hundred days, I am staying on the roads around Delhi on tractors and trolleys. I have suffered bone-chilling cold as well as torrential rains in the winter. Now it is blazing summer. I am staging dharnas on the roads far away from my village.

“I am not fighting for something for me alone. We are on the roads to save farmers all over the country as well as our next generation. We are fighting for the existence as well as dignity and honour of all farming communities. We have lost more than 300 of our friends who have died of cold and other ailments as well as accidents. Some committed suicides as they failed to stomach the injustice and humiliation which the Modi government has heaped on us.”

Swearing by the memories of their fallen Comrades the letter highlighted ‘Four Points’ against Modi government’s propaganda.

  • The BJP government’s farm laws have been imposed on farmers without any discussion with them. These laws will destroy the farmers and agriculture.
  • The BJP leadership has insulted the protesting farmers by calling them Anti National terrorist and agent provocateurs.
  • The ministers feigned to discuss with the protesters but never cared to address their grievances.
  • The government has resorted to various repressive measures on the farmers including the use of tear gas, water cannons, Lathi charge and false criminal cases.

Maintaining that the Modi government has not cared for constitutional and democratic norms that include proper responses to demands of People in the street, the letter further said: “This ruling party only understands one language —the language of votes, seats and power. Freedom fighter Bhagat Singh had once said that the British rulers won’t listen to the voices of Indians unless we throw bombs. In today’s India we need to hit this deaf BJP government where it will be hurt most: in the election results. ”

Pointing to the fact that there are no elections in the states where the farmers’ movement has a strong social base, it urged Bengal voters to stand by them in solidarity. “If Bengal teaches BJP a befitting lesson, its arrogance will be shattered and the Modi government will listen to the farmers,” it added.

Biswajit Roy

is Consultant Editor with eNewsroom India. He reports on major news developments as well as writes political pieces on national and Bengal politics and social-cultural issues.

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