Friday’s Mahapanchayat is the second major event in the region this week where the farmers gave vent to their anger
A massive Kisan Mahapanchayat held here on Friday to demand rollback of the Centre’s agriculture sector laws turned out to be a show of strength for Congress leader and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot. The presence of Mr. Pilot at the rally not only enthused his supporters, but also lent legitimacy to the farmers’ agitation.
Mr. Pilot’s camp has been facing alienation in the State’s politics since July 2020, when the young leader was sacked as the Deputy CM and Pradesh Congress president following a showdown with the top leadership. The farmers’ rally in the eastern Rajasthan town gave an opportunity to Mr. Pilot to exhibit his political support.
The Dausa Lok Sabha constituency — represented by Mr. Pilot’s father and Union minister, the late Rajesh Pilot, five times between 1984 and 1999 — has emerged as a new turf of farmers’ protest against the controversial laws. Friday’s Mahapanchayat was the second major event in the region this week where the farmers gave vent to their anger.
Thousands of farmers, agricultural labourers, daily wage earners, milkmen and cattle rearers gathered at the Rajesh Pilot Stadium here to attend the half-day Mahapanchayat held under the aegis of the Samyukta Kisan Sangathan. ‘Main Bhi Kisan’ (I too am a farmer) printed on a large banner put up at the stage reflected the indomitable spirit of farmers facing the agrarian crisis.
The Congress MLAs of the region, who were instrumental in mobilising the cultivators from far-off villages for coming to the district headquarters, flayed the “obstinate stance” of the BJP-led government at the Centre and took exception to the attempts being made to defame farmers on the pretext of violence in Delhi on Republic Day.
Prominent among the politicians who addressed the Mahapanchayat were Dausa MLA Murari Lal Meena, Bandikui MLA Gajraj Khatana, Deoli-Uniara MLA Harish Meena, Todabhim MLA Prithviraj Meena, Masuda MLA Rakesh Pareek, Neem Ka Thana MLA Suresh Modi and Chaksu MLA Ved Prakash Solanki.
Two farmers carrying a wooden plough and the national tricolour were the centre of attraction at the massive gathering. While the speakers extended their support to the ongoing sit-in near Shahjahanpur, at the Rajasthan-Haryana border, slogans like ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’ and ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ rent the air.
The Mahapanchayat brought together protesters from different castes and religious groups, such as Meena, Gujjar, Jat and Meo. In addition to rural folk, including women, from the eight tehsils of Dausa district, the farmers were also drawn from Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli, Tonk and Alwar districts.
Mr. Pilot said farmers were the only section of society that kept working during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured the supply of food material when the entire economy had stopped. “This is the time when you need our support. We cannot let you down when mandis are being abolished and your livelihood is at stake… Corporate houses are being pampered and farmers are being denied minimum support prices.”
The former deputy CM, who represents the Tonk Assembly constituency, said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had brought as many as 22 political parties together against the farm laws through widespread consultations. “The Centre is playing a nefarious role. Despite 11 rounds of talks with farmers, it is in no mood to relent and withdraw the legislations. What are the Centre’s compulsions?” he asked.
A memorandum addressed to the President, adopted at the rally, demanded immediate repeal of the three farm laws, withdrawal of cases registered against the farmers protesting at the Delhi borders, compensation to the next of kin of those who had lost their lives in the agitation, and a grant of legal status to the minimum support price (MSP) for farmers.