Farmers' unions have called for a 'Bharat Bandh' today in protest against contentious farm bills that were passed in Parliament this week. Leading farmers' unions like All Indias Kisan Sabha (AIKS), All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and at least 18 opposition parties, including Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left, Trinamool Congress, DMK and TRS will join the farm unions' 'Bharat Bandh' call.
"The Congress and Rahul Gandhi stand solidly with farmers and support the Bharat Bandh. Congress workers and leaders will join farmers' dharna and protests," Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Sujewala said yesterday.
Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary said the party workers in Delhi will launch a plan to raise the voice of farmers and farm labourers from Parliament to panchayats. He said workers will take to the streets against the farm bills.
The Congress has decided to take out marches in every state after which memorandums will be submitted to the respective governors on September 28 against these farm bills.
On October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri, Congress will observe 'Save farmers and farm labourers day'.
On October 10, the party's state units will organise 'kisaan sammelans'. Additionally, between October 2 and 31, Congress workers will go to villages and collect two crore signatures from farmers against the contentious bills, which will be submitted to the President.
The 10 central trade unions such as CITU, AITUC and Hind Mazdoor Sabha are also expected to show solidarity with the farmers.
It is likely that highways and rail tracks will be blocked, which may cause huge inconvenience to commuters.
Farmers started a three-day rail blockade against the bills and squatted on tracks at many places in Punjab on Thursday. The farmer outfits have also decided to go for an indefinite rail blockade from October 1.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the farmers to ensure that the citizens are not inconvenienced, and lives and property of people are not endangered due to the agitations.
Punjab's leading opposition party and ally of NDA has also announced 'Chakka jam' for three hours across Punjab. In Haryana, BKU has given a call to seize the highways. BKU general secretary Sukhdev Singh appealed to the people, including shopkeepers and commercial establishments, to keep their shop shut in support of the strike.
In Uttar Pradesh, BKU has asked farmers to block their villages, towns, and highways.
The farmers' outfit will also stage demonstrations in the Delhi-NCR border as well.
All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) will organise "mass resistance" in Bengal by blocking roads and highways at several locations. The Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity, an independent union of agricultural workers, sharecroppers, marginal peasants, and plantation workers, is also supporting the bandh. The AIKS will hold protests in 21 districts of Maharashtra.
In southern states, Farmers' organisation will also hold protests. Taxi and lorry drivers' associations have also extended support to the farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Samyuktha Karshaka Samiti (SKS) will stage protests outside central government offices across Kerala.
The protesters have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm reforms would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system and they would be at the "mercy" of big corporates. The farmers said they would continue their fight until the three farm bills are revoked.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill were passed by the Parliament earlier this week.