CHANDIGARH/JAIPUR: Farmer leaders on Thursday held their first mahapanchayat in Punjab’s Jagraon town and hit out at PM Modi for equating them with ‘andolanjeevi,’ saying such protests have become a mass movement, not only in India but also abroad against the WTO, IMF and the World Bank.
“If we remain peaceful, we will win. Otherwise, Modi will win,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal Group). “The BJP wants to break us on the basis of religion, but it has not been successful. Ours is the country’s longest peaceful agitation. We must be ready for a long haul. We won’t go back till these laws are taken back. This agitation will win.”
He took objection against the word ‘andolanjeevi’. “The PM insulted us in a diplomatic way by calling us ‘andolanjeevi (those who thrive on protests),’’ he said. “The world is saying these laws are not good for the India. There have been discussions in Australia and New Zealand and also a special House session is being called in the UK to debate on these farm laws,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, farmers at Singhu border have started strengthening the infrastructure at the protest site. “Some 100 CCTVs with video recorders are being installed at the main stage and also at some identified spots across the protest site to keep tabs on miscreants,’’ said a farmer leader. In Rajasthan’s Laxmangarh town in Alwar district, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said the new farm laws were being implemented through dictatorial means. “We’ll continue our fight until these laws are repealed,” he said.
Before addressing a ‘kisan panchayat’ Tikait told the media that farmers’ crops were being sold for half the price. He reiterated the government guarantee a law on MSP and that if any businessman bought crops at prices less than that, he should be jailed. The farmers’ protest is expected to intensify further in the state of Rajasthan with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visiting the state on February 12 and 13.