Thousands of farmers in many states of the country on Friday stopped the running of trains and blocked roads in protest against the recently enacted Farm Bills that was passed without addressing their anxieties. The situation is particularly bad in the states of Punjab and Haryana which are considered as the food baskets of the country. Friday was observed as ‘Bharat Bandh’ day by farmers all over the country. It evoked a good response throughout the country. Though in other states farmers also grow vegetables and cash crops, in Punjab and Haryana they essentially grow rice and wheat, the farmers in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka did participate in the demonstrations.
Various farmer bodies, such as the Bharatiya Kisan Union, and political parties including the erstwhile ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are protesting against the agricultural bills. The latter organised a ‘chakka jam’ in Punjab. It needs to be mentioned that Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the only member of the Union cabinet from the party, resigned from the post last week in protest against the same.
The garnering of so much support by the Opposition is certainly a cause of concern for the BJP-led government. Before the SAD parted ways, the government had lost other alliance partners notably the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
On his part to downplay the country-wide protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked BJP workers to reach out to small group of farmers and inform them about the advantages of the new Bills.
Not only farmers, but several trade unions too are disappointed over the labour bills passed in Parliament and have been extending support to the former. They organized several small meetings almost across the country on Friday.