NEW DELHI: Giving a clarion call for generating employment, better support price for farm produce, debt waiver for agricultural workers and universal social security, among other demands, thousands of workers, farmers and agricultural labourers marched from Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street, forming a sea of red in the national capital on Wednesday.
The traffic in Central Delhi was thrown out of gear as workers and farmers from across the country, holding red flags and banners and wearing red caps, raised slogans against the policies of the BJP-led Central government as they marched.
The farmers and workers had gathered in Delhi to take part in the ‘Mazdoor Kishan Sangharsh Rally’, organised jointly by the Left-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All-India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU).
Farm leaders and trade unions vowed to intensify their protests across the country as they claimed the government has been ignoring their demands. On the agenda is a trade union conclave to announce a two-day strike in September-end, Youth March to Parliament on November 3 and a long march in Delhi — on the lines of the long march in Mumbai — on November 28-30.
“The government has not fulfilled any promises made to the farmers during the Nashik long march. They (Centre) will not listen to our demands and we have to intensify the countrywide agitation in the weeks to come,” said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
A poster, with a tribute to slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, was also put and books written by Left ideologues worldwide were being sold at the protest site.
Brahm Pal, a farmer from Rohtak in Haryana, said, “We do cotton farming. I have three sons. They do not have any job, so they help me out in the farms. But every year, a large part of our crop gets destroyed due to the cotton worm. We made many requests to the state government but nobody listens,” he said.
Bharti, a mid-day meal worker in a Telangana school, said the rules for the scheme had been changed by the government and it’s costing them their livelihood.
“The government is not paying us for the work that we are doing. For each egg that we are supposed to provide in the meal, the government gives just `6, but that is not the actual price of egg. Nobody in my neighbourhood will vote for Modi.”