“While Vijay Mallya owing over Rs.9000 crores and Adani owing over Rs.71,000 crores were moving scot-free, the peasantry was being hounded and harassed for small loans,” said Vijoo Krishnan, Joint Secretary, AIKS (All India Kisan Sabha). He is now leading one of the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha which began from Virudhunagar District of Tamilnadu on November 2. The intent of this jatha is to mobilise the farmers and agricultural workers against the neo-liberal policies of the BJP government. He said the government’s anti-farmer policies are aggravating the agrarian crisis. The AIKS had played a pivotal role in resisting the Land Acquisition Ordinance by the Modi government in 2015.
There are three other Jathas — from Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Bengal — which are also heading to New Delhi. This southern jatha from Tamil Nadu alone will cover more than 3500 KM across 8 States, before reaching Delhi on November 24. Finally, all four marches will assemble at Ram Lila Maidan for the massive Kisan Sangharsh Rally and march to Parliament.
K.Varadharajan, Vice-President of AIKS inaugurated the Jatha by handing over a torch symbolising the flame of struggles to the Jatha leader Vijoo Krishnan. In his inaugural address, Varadharajan spoke about the growing inequalities in the country and the increasing hardship of the peasantry and rural poor, while a handful of rich were looting the resources of the country. He criticised Congress and BJP at the Centre and also the governments run by DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. “The anti-people governments pushed the peasantry into crisis. This Jatha will unleash a wave of united struggles across the country ” he said.
Despite heavy rain, thousands of peasants and agricultural workers had gathered at the Deshbandhu Maidan at Virudhunagar.
Vijoo Krishnan called upon a united fight of the peasantry against divisive communal and casteist agenda of BJP and RSS. “Suicides by farmers had increased manifold after the BJP came to power with the number increasing from 48 to 52 suicides every day. In particular, the BJP ruled Maharashtra saw over 3228 suicides last year, highest since 1995. And also reportedly saw over 30,000 deaths of children aged 0-5 years due to malnutrition.” he said.
There are 15 key demands that AIKS puts forward. Some of them are: implement progressive and comprehensive land reforms all over the country, implement the Land Acquisition Act 2013, implement comprehensive package of loan waiver for poor and marginal peasants, ensure Minimum Support Price, immediately withdraw Foreign Direct Investment in agriculture and food processing industry, ensure proper implementation of MGNREGA, enact central legislation for agricultural workers to ensure minimum wage and social security, and ensure food security by enhancing agriculture production, procurement and distribution.