Other States

No stemming the flood of tractors to Delhi ahead of Republic Day

Tractors lined up on the KMP expressway as farmers gear up for their January 26 tractor rally in Delhi, as part of the ongoing agitation against farm reform laws in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The number of tractors swelled at the Ghazipur border on Sunday evening as farmers prepare to march to Delhi on Republic Day. While earlier, the tractors were lined up only on the Delhi-Meerut expressway, tractors and trolleys are now lining up from Delhi-Ghazipur towards Vaishali on the Link Road.

Dharmendra Malik, media in-charge of the Bhartiya Kisan Union said two to 2.5 lakh tractors will reach Delhi by the eve of Republic Day.

 

“It is a reaction to some spokespersons of the BJP who had said on January 6 that the country had 40 lakh registered tractors and only 60,000 were participating in the rally. Now we will show them the number in lakhs and if they still don’t consider it substantial, they should be prepared for more,” he said after a meeting with the Delhi Police officials at the makeshift media centre at the border.

“The march will cover 300-350 kms. The Ghazipur parade will be of about 50 kms. We will go up to Akshardham and then take a U-turn via Anand Vihar,” Mr. Malik said.

Curbs in U.P.

There were reports of farmers being stopped or discouraged by the administration in different districts of western Uttar Pradesh. In Baghpat, the District Supplies Officer issued an order to petrol pumps that record of petrol or diesel sold for any agricultural machine should be passed on to the DSO. It also said diesel and petrol should not be sold in bottles and drums.

Some farmers from Bulandshahr claimed that police officials had taken away keys of their tractors.

Rakesh Tikait, senior leader of BKU said he didn’t think police will stop farmers from participating in the peaceful parade. “If they do, farmers will block roads then and there. It will become a bigger problem for the administration,” he said. “We are giving treatment to the government, but we don’t believe in shock therapy,” he said.

Divisions blur

At the Ghazipur border, there is an increasing integration among the different farmer groups. Earlier, there was a clear demarcation between the tents of the BKU, All India Kisan Sabha and Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan but now the lines have blurred. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Chaudhary Charan Singh share space on poster while the Buddha Bhikshu Sangh has come out to support the farmers.

On the chances of breaking deadlock, sources in the BKU said the farmer leaders were ready to negotiate if the government came with a law guaranteeing the MSP. “The government’s offer of putting the laws in abeyance for 1.5 years could be considered if it comes with a law for MSP now,” said a senior leader, requesting anonymity.

There is also a section that feels the Prime Minister should be actively involved in the negotiations.

“For long he has said his Man ki Baat (the Prime Minister’s monthly radio broadcast). It’s time to listen to Jan Ki Baat (the voice of the people),” said Rishipal Singh, senior vice-president of the BKU.

He said the entire process of the farm legislations with ordinances being brought in during the COVID-19 induced lockdown to the propping up of fake farmers allegedly supporting the controversial legislations, had raised questions about the government’s intent.

“Even now they have allowed the parade because their attempt to fire from the Supreme Court’s shoulder has failed,” said Mr Singh.

On the political implications of the movement, he said it was too early to say as the movement still had no one leader. “Unlike Mahendra Singh Tikait whose order was the final word for farmers in the 1980s, there is no one leader of this movement. But what this collective leadership has achieved is that Mr Modi will not forget the word farmer till his last breath,” he asserted.

Ask the farmers why they don’t believe the government when it says it will put the laws in abeyance, many feel it was just a ploy to break their unity.

“We were silently suffering all these years. It is not just about these laws, there is more to it,” said Mahipal Singh from Bijnor. “Norms says the sugar cane mills are bound to make payments in 14 days. Supreme Court has said this, but farmers are still made to wait and beg,” he said. “Now, the reverse gear of our tractors has got stuck!” chips in Dheeraj Kumar, a farmer from Meerut with an impish smile.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 6:20:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/no-stemming-the-flood-of-tractors-to-delhi-ahead-of-republic-day/article33651407.ece

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