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India’s Farmers Mass Strike Is Showing the Way Against Cartel Pricing

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EIRNS — Farmers’ protests at the road entrances to Delhi, in the hundreds of thousands, have reached Day 12, and are challenging the onset of cartel pricing of food — deadly to agriculture and farmers everywhere in the world — in three laws just imposed through the Modi government. After five rounds of talks between their leaders and Union ministers, they have remained firm in their demand that the laws be withdrawn. They realize in advance that their farm income will be cut down by the pricing “innovations” of those laws, where many farmers in other countries have come to realize it only when its ruinous reality hits.

NDTV reported that support for Tuesday’s Bharat bandh (All India General Strike) grew steadily, with opposition parties and trade and transport unions backing the shutdown call. “On Saturday farmer leaders met union ministers for talks — third this week and fifth since September — but the five-hour discussion broke down on the core issue, repeal of the laws. After the meeting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the centre remains committed to finding a solution but urged farmers to scale down protests outside Delhi — by sending the elderly and children home.”

The farmers did the Saturday, Dec. 5, meeting in style. They first laid out their demand that all three laws be repealed. Then, they wrote “YES — NO” on pieces of paper, and stuck to their mouth like masks. And then, they put their index finger on their lips indicating they would not talk unless the government negotiator, Minister Tomar, answers “yes or no” to their repeal demand.

Not just farm families have joined the farm owners on the front line, but a number of opposition parties have supported the action; the Congress, the DMK, the RJD, the Samajwadi Party, the NCP, the newly-minted People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in Jammu & Kashmir and various left organizations issued a joint statement. Signed by Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, M.K. Stalin, Akhilesh Yadav, and Tejashwi Yadav, among others, the statement said: “[We] extend our solidarity with the ongoing massive struggle by Indian farmers … and support their call for a ‘Bharat bandh’ on December 8, demanding the withdrawal of retrograde agri-laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill.” The Chief Ministers of Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal) and Telangana (K. Chandrashekar Rao) have also backed the bandh, while Bengal’s ruling Trinamool said it would extend “moral support” to farmers and stage sit-ins in various areas in the state for three days.

Within the governing coalition as well, the Shiromani Akali Dal withdrew from the BJP-led NDA after the bills were passed and has also extended support.

And the bandh has also been backed by a joint forum of trade unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All India Trade Union Congress , and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha. It will also see farmers blocking national highways and occupying toll plazas, the Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Harwinder Singh Lakhwal told news agency PTI. The farmers have also threatened to cut off road access to the national capital, around which the many thousands have been camped for nearly two weeks now, if their demands are not met. Tomorrow will be the biggest day of the political strike so far. [pbg/rma]