The ‘Kisan Long March’ seems to be far from a spontaneous, neutral farmer’s protest

A farmers’ march organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) today reached Mumbai’s Azad Maidan from Nashik, demanding a complete loan waiver, among other demands. AIKS is the peasant’s arm of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPIM) led by Sitaram Yechury.

Later in the day, the protestors plan to stage a protest outside Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. While our heart goes out to the farmers and their plight, the movement of farmers now seems to have been hijacked by political parties to score their own brownie points as a run-up to the upcoming general elections in 2019.

Shiv Sena, which recently broke its alliance with the BJP to go solo in 2019 elections, has already extended support to the farmers’ march against the BJP. Similarly, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray has also extended support to the farmers’ march.

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Other than waiving off the loan, the farmers are demanding change in the government’s plan to link rivers in Thane, Nashik and Palghar, which is scheduled to go for by-poll elections sometime soon, to ensure that the tribal lands are not submerged. Meanwhile, up to February, Maharashtra government has approved more than 5.4 million farmer bank accounts and funds of Rs. 12,381 crores have been released to banks for more than 4.6 million of them.

While the issues are genuine and the government is working towards resolving them, many have wondered if there is an ulterior motive behind such protests.

The march even has tribals from the interiors of Maharashtra participating along with farmers of Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh. A similar such rally was organised by CPIM back in May 2015, where the same Azad Maidan was decorated with red flags and photos of Karl Marx.

Many, including the Managing Editor of Mail Today, an English Daily, have raised questions about the politicisation of the farmers’ rally and how it doesn’t seem spontaneous and neutral.

While the plight of farmers is indeed a matter of grave concern and the government must take steps to bring the agriculture and allied sector out of distress, the Kisan Long March, which has farmers waving red communists flags, seems to be far from a neutral, spontaneous rally.

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