Bharat Bandh on Sept 27: Which political parties backing farmers’ resistance

Agencies
September 26, 2021

The Bharat Bandh or the nationwide strike declared by farmers on September 27 to protest against the three central farm laws has garnered support from several political parties. The strike on Monday, which is to be led by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella body of farmers' unions spearheading the anti-farm law protests – has now received support from the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government; meanwhile, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). And the Left parties have already extended support to the Bharat Bandh earlier.

The deadlock 

The Bharat Bandh has been called by the farmer unions to protest the three contentious agricultural laws passed by the central government, against which the farmers have been demonstrating 

The government and farmer unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers' protest. Talks have not resumed following widespread violence during a tractor rally by protesting farmers on January 26.

The three laws—The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020—were passed by the Parliament in September last year.

Farmer groups have alleged that these laws will end the mandi and minimum support price (MSP) procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced and asserted that these steps will help increase farmers' income. The Supreme Court in January stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a panel to resolve the impasse.

Which political parties have supported the Bharat Bandh?

YSR Congress

The YSR Congress-led Andhra Pradesh government is the latest political quarter to throw its weight behind the September 27 Bharat Bandh called by the farmers.

The announcement was made by Andhra Pradesh information and transport minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said on Saturday. He said that the state government, led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has extended its ‘full support’ to the Bharat Bandh on September 27 in solidarity with the concerns of farmers. Additionally, the Andhra Pradesh government is also supporting the concerns of the Visakhapatnam steel plant workers, who have been opposing privatisation attempts by the central government.

In view of this, Nani said the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to stop APSRTC buses across the state from September 26 midnight to September 27 afternoon. The minister, however, appealed for peaceful protests in the Bandh.

Aam Aadmi Party

The AAP has also supported the Bharat Bandh call issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on September 27. Announcing the party's support for the nationwide strike in solidarity with the farmers, AAP leader Raghav Chadha said on Saturday that party supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has always stood by the farmers against the “black laws.”

Congress

The Congress on Saturday extended its support to the Bharat Bandh and demanded that discussions be initiated with the protesters. Calling for a “peaceful” strike, Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the party and all its workers are in support of the Bharat Bandh call given by farmer unions against the Centre's three farm laws.

The Congress leader also demanded that the MSP should be given as a legal right to every farmer “as they do not want only 'jumlas' (rhetoric)” and referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise to double the farmers' income by 2022.

Telugu Desam Party and Left parties

n a bid to make Bharat Bandh called by San successful, a meeting was held on Wednesday at Andhra Pradesh's Communist Party India (CPI) office by left parties, Congress, and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

During the meeting, Donepudi Sankar, CPI State leader said, “Farmers have been agitating for nine months in Delhi, so this Bharat Bandh will be held to support them.”

In a joint statement, the Left parties – the CPI, CPI(M), All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – urged people to extend support to the Bharat Bandh, noting that the “historic” farmers' struggle demanding the repeal of the agri-laws is now in its tenth month.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav extends support

Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav extended his support to Samyukta Kisan Morcha's (SKM) call for Bharat Bandh on September 27.

In a tweet on Friday, Tejashwi Yadav said, “In the meeting of the top leaders of the Mahagathbandhan parties held at the residence today, it was unanimously decided to participate and support the Bharat Bandh called by the United Kisan Morcha on September 27, in protest against the anti-farmer policies of the NDA government. We are firm with the farmers.”

Meanwhile, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday denounced the call for Bharat Bandh by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha against the Centre's three contentious farm laws on September 27, saying disrupting economic activities post-Covid-19 was not in the interest of the nation.

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News Network
October 15,2021

New Delhi, Oct 15: India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Eighteen countries, including China, Brazil and Kuwait, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said on Thursday.

The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India "alarming".

In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries. Now with 116 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 101st rank.

India's GHI score has also decelerated -- from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 - 27.5 between 2012 and 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators --undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition)  and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

The share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020, according to the report.

"People have been severely hit by Covid-19 and by pandemic related restrictions in India, the country with the highest child wasting rate worldwide," the report said.

Neighbouring countries like Nepal (76), Bangladesh (76), Myanmar (71) and Pakistan (92) are also in the 'alarming' hunger category but have fared better at feeding their citizens than India, according to the report.

However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food, the report said.

According to the report, the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on the current GHI projections, the world as a whole -- and 47 countries in particular -- will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030.

Food security is under assault on multiple fronts, it said, adding that worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic are all driving hunger.

"Inequality -- between regions, countries, districts, and communities -- is pervasive and, (if) left unchecked, will keep the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) mandate to “leave no one behind," the report said.

Further, the report noted that it is difficult to be optimistic in 2021 because the forces now driving hunger are overpowering good intentions and lofty goals.

Among the most powerful and toxic of these forces are conflict, climate change, and Covid-19—three Cs that threaten to wipe out any progress that has been made against hunger in recent years, it added. 

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News Network
October 17,2021

New Delhi, Oct 17: Petrol and diesel prices on Sunday rallied to their highest ever levels across the country, as fuel rates were hiked again by 35 paise a litre.

The price of petrol in Delhi rose to its highest-ever level of Rs 105.84 a litre and Rs 111.77 per litre in Mumbai, according to a price notification of the state-owned fuel retailers. In Mumbai, diesel now comes for Rs 102.52 a litre; while in Delhi, it costs Rs 94.57.

This is the fourth straight day of 35 paise per litre increase in petrol and diesel prices. There was no change in rates on October 12 and 13.

Diesel prices have now increased 19 out of the last 23 days taking up its retail price by Rs 5.95 per litre in Delhi.

With diesel prices rising sharply, the fuel is now available at over Rs 100 a litre in several parts of the country. This dubious distinction was earlier available to petrol that had crossed Rs 100 a litre-mark across the country a few months earlier.

Petrol prices had maintained stability since September 5, but oil companies finally raised the pump prices last week. Petrol prices have also risen on 16 of the previous 19 days taking up its pump price by Rs 4.65 per litre.

OMCs had preferred to maintain their watch prices on the global oil situation before making any revision in prices. This is the reason why petrol prices were not revised for the last three weeks. But extreme volatility in the global oil price movement has now pushed OMCs to effect the increase.

Crude price has been on a surge rising over three year high level of over $ 84.6 a barrel now. Since September 5, when both petrol and diesel prices were revised, the price of petrol and diesel in the international market is higher by around $9-10 per barrel as compared to average prices during August.

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News Network
October 20,2021

Lucknow, Oct 20: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had yet another brush with the Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday while trying to proceed to Agra to meet the family of a youth from SC community, a sanitation worker, who died in police custody there on Tuesday.

Priyanka was detained at the toll plaza on the entry point of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway after she insisted on going to Agra despite being told by the cops that section 144 had been promulgated there and that her visit could cause law and order problems there.

''They (cops) want me to remain confined to the guest house....it suits the government politically...do I have to take their permission every time I want to go to someplace?....how can my visit to the family which has lost one of its members be a law and order issue?,'' Priyanka told reporters.

''Today is the birth anniversary of Valmiki...the youth (Arun Valmiki) died in police custody.......his family wants justice....I am going to meet his family...why is the UP government scared?,'' the Congress leader said in a tweet later. She also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the teachings of Lord Buddha at Kushinagar but his teachings were not being followed in the state.

According to the sources, Arun Valmiki was taken into custody by the police in Agra on charges of stealing Rs 25 lakh from the Jagadishpura police station in Agra. The police said they recovered some cash from his possession. 

Police said that Arun suddenly fell sick while being in custody and was rushed to the hospital but died there a little later. His family alleged that he was tortured to death by the cops.

Earlier this month also, Priyanka had a clash with the police when she tried to reach Lakhimpur Kheri on the day eight people, including four farmers, were killed during a protest by the farmers against union minister of state for home Ajai Mishra. Mishra's son Ashish was arrested on charges of mowing down four farmers with his SUV.

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