South India (2017), Uncategorized

Kisan Mukti Yata in South India – Day 2

“The nation is indebted to farmers by at least 1.5 lakh crores annually:

When farmers ask for freedom from debt, they are asking for a legitimate right and not charity”

Vijayawada, September 17th 2017Leaders of the Kisan Mukti Yatra which entered Andhra Pradesh today on the second day of its South India tour asserted that it is the nation and government which owe the farmers, and not the other way round. “When we ask for freedom from debt, it is a completely justified and legitimate demand from farmers, and this is not just about loan waivers. We understand the limitations as well as meaningless loan waiver schemes that are being implemented right now and what we are asking for is a policy-based and statutory institutional mechanism for debt relief”, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in a statement today.

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The Yatra was welcomed into Andhra Pradesh from Telangana this morning in various places, on its way to Vijayawada, where a large gathering of farmers awaited the Yatra. Veteran farmer leader, Kolli Nageswara Rao was felicitated by national and local farmer leaders for his enormous contributions to protecting farmers’ rights in the country. A citation presented to him presented his numerous fights and achievements over the many decades. Two telugu books authored by Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao were also released on the occasion (“Amaravati: Navyandhra Praja Rajadhani Ayyedela” and “Raithanga Samasyala Parishkaram Kosam – Raithanga Samarabheri Aavasyakata”).

Presiding over the function which saw more than a thousand farmers participating, Shri Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao of Raithu Rakshana Vedika flagged three main issues as pressing matters for farmers in the country – rights over resources like land; remunerative prices which also address the fact that farmers get priced out due to free trade agreements being signed by governments; and comprehensive debt relief.

“Initial calculations show that just as a consequence of the Farmers’ Commission recommendation for remunerative prices (cost of cultivation + 50%) not being implemented over the past ten years, farmers were denied at least 15 lakh crore rupees that is legitimately due to them”, said Yogendra Yadav, Member, National Working Group of AIKSCC. He congratulated farmers of Sikar for the tough fight that they put up in the recent past, by drawing in the support of all stakeholders in the society, to secure a loan waiver for themselves in addition to an assurance on various other demands. He also recalled the inspiring spontaneous struggles by farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and exhorted farmers in all other states to take up such struggles as well as join hands for securing justice.

Speakers like V M Singh (Convenor, AIKSCC) and Malla Reddy (Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha) said that BJP should realise that farmers are going to vote the government out of power in the next elections for the cheating that they are being subjected to by the government, when it reneges on promises made. V M Singh emphasised that the Kisan Mukti Yatra demand is not just about bank loan waivers. In a state like Andhra Pradesh, a vast majority of farmers are tenant farmers who do not access formal credit and would not benefit from such loan waiver schemes with limited objective, he pointed out.

Raju Shetty, Member of Parliament and a former constituent of the NDA said that while the government is busy hyping its promises of doubling farmers’ income, official data clearly shows that it is the loans of farmers that are more than doubling and not their incomes. He also cautioned that while he recently walked out of the NDA alliance arrangement because Modi’s government is claiming that it cannot implement the Farmers’ Commission formula for price-fixing, if the government does not accede to the two demands of the Kisan Mukti Yatra, he will put in efforts to pro-actively campaign against BJP and Narendra Modi from being re-elected.

Justice Gopal Gowda, retired Supreme Court Judge, spoke at length about the constitutional and legal rights of citizens/farmers against forcible land acquisition and narrated several progressive judgements from the Court. He was speaking in the context of land acquisition for the new capital city for Andhra Pradesh, Amravati.

Retired Cabinet Secretary, E A S Sarma demanded that there should be a separate Parliament session for at least seven days to debate issues of farmers and the agrarian crisis in the country. He also urged farmers to prepare a clear and strong manifesto for themselves and push for implementation of the same.

The South India leg of the Kisan Mukti Yatra started yesterday on September 16th 2017 in Hyderabad and after covering several parts of Telangana, entered Andhra Pradesh today. The yatra will hold meetings in Anantapur and Madanapalle tomorrow, and will enter Tamil Nadu on the 19th of September. It is scheduled to end in Bangalore on September 23rd. The yatra is being held under the aegis of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which consists of more than 160 farmer organisations all over India.

For more information, contact: Kiran Vissa at 9701705743

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