As the iconic Ramlila Maidan became the haunt for thousands of farmers on Thursday night, echoes of demands for their “haq” (right) resonated in the Delhi winter air.
The farmers converged in the national capital on Thursday from different corners of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, to participate in the two-day Kisan March.
The historic ground, known for hosting big political events over the years, resonated with slogans like “Ayodhya nahi, karz maafi chahiye”.
“Ab haq ke bina bhi kya jeena, yeh jeene ke samaan nahi (life has no meaning without rights),” sang one of the performers at the ‘Kisan Night’ organised to lift the spirits of the farmers on Thursday.
Leaders of opposition parties as well as activists showed solidarity with the community.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday called for a farm loan waiver, asserting that peasants are asking for what is due to them and not a “free gift”.
The Congress supremo joined opposition leaders including AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, veteran politicians Sharad Yadav and Sitaram Yechury at Jantar Mantar, where the thousands of farmers gathered on Friday to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
“The country has been divided between Ambani and Adani. But your farm loan waiver does not happen, you don’t get the right prices and hollow speeches are made,” Rahul said.
He trained his guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that if Rs 30,000 crore can be given to Anil Ambani, an apparent reference to the Rafale fighter jet deal, why can’t loans of farmers be waived off?
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal alleged that PM Modi has “stabbed farmers in the back” by not fulfilling the promises made to them and warned him that they would “wreak havoc” in the 2019 general elections if those promises are not kept.
In his address at the venue, Kejriwal claimed that the Centre had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying it would not implement the MS Swaminathan Commission report.
“The government had made a number of promises to farmers in the last election (2014), but it has not fulfilled those promises. By not implementing the Swaminathan Commission report, Modiji has stabbed the farmers in the back (‘kisano ke peeth mey chhura bhonka hai‘),” he alleged.
He said the Union government should implement the report in five months. “The affidavit filed in the court should be withdrawn and the report should be implemented, otherwise, farmers would wreak havoc in 2019 elections (‘kisan agle election mey qayamat dhah denge‘),” he said.
“The Fasal Beema Yojna is a fraud and is cheating farmers. The insurance companies withdraw money from farmers without their permission and thousands of crores have been withdrawn in this manner. When farmers lose their produce, these companies impose the condition that compensation would be given only if 70 per cent of the produce has been destroyed,” the AAP chief claimed.