As Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveniently ignores the farmers’ movement demanding the repealing of three anti-farmer farm laws and a legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP) of crops, the farmers have prepared to stall the country through their 12-hour-long Bharat Bandh (all-India general strike) on March 26th 2021.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM)—an umbrella body of farmers’ unions steering the movement—called for the 12-hour-long Bharat Bandh as it completes four months of its agitation at Delhi’s borders and two months of the brutal police violence against them on India’s Republic Day, January 26th. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Modi refused to accept the genuine demands of the farmers and the latter remained obstinate to carry forward their struggle until the laws are scrapped.
From early hour reports, the Bharat Bandh by SKM has received overwhelming support in Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh in the northern parts of India. Due to the closure of the Ghazipur border of Delhi, there will be a roll-over impact in the capital city as well while, at the same time, the BJP has cajoled all corporate houses to ensure their workplaces remain full in the business hubs of India to showcase the undaunted support it enjoys from the upper-caste Hindu elites and urban middle-class.
In the southern state of Telangana, the ruling YSR Congress has supported the Bharat Bandh. The state is seeing a massive response to the strike. In Odisha, the government of the BJP’s secret ally Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been intimidating the government employees to desist from joining the strike. In Andhra Pradesh, the state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has supported the strike and its farmers’ wing, All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) is participating in observing the strike.
The Congress party has supported the SKM’s Bharat Bandh call and, therefore, in the state of Punjab, the strike has been 100% successful. The farmers’ strike has also got support from the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front in Kerala, which is contesting a tough electoral battle against the Congress party-led United Democratic Front. Though both sides have supported the Bharat Bandh, still the poll-bound states are kept out of the ambit of the strike by the SKM.
While it’s unlikely that the farmers’ Bharat Bandh will have a nationwide impact, its strong impact will be felt at the BJP’s erstwhile strong bases in northern India. The popular support the Bharat Bandh is receiving in the epicentres of the farmers’ movement also exemplifies how the movement is growing and, despite all attempts by the Modi regime and its corporate sponsors, refusing to die down due to the government’s indifference.
Despite the BJP’s two-month-long attempt to push the farmers’ issue to oblivion by enforcing media censorship and by unleashing police brutality against the leaders and supporters of the movement at Delhi’s borders, the Bharat Bandh on March 26th is showing that the movement didn’t lose steam, rather it has achieved stronger unity and can strike the BJP and its corporate masters hard. Though the farmers’ movement is an economic one, its political implications are far beyond what the BJP and its corporate masters can fathom.