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 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?
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.”
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.