HYDERABAD: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Sunday called upon farmers in the country not to let up pressure on the BJP government at the Centre and not rest until the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops got constitutional protection.
Farmers, he said, had the power to change governments, adding that people “should support parties that are committed to this cause in the coming elections.”
Speaking at a meeting in Chandigarh with families of Galwan martyrs, and of farmers who lost their lives in the agitation against the three agriculture Bills that were introduced, and then withdrawn by the Centre, Chandrashekar Rao said it was unfortunate and sad that even 75 years after Independence, “We have to hold meetings like this. The eyes well up with tears. Why is India like this? This is something that needs to be thought about, and discussed.”
Rao was in Chandigarh to express support to the families of farmers and Galwan martyrs to whom he handed over cheques of Rs 3 lakh each. With him were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann and farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait.
“Your sacrifices in the kisan andolan forced the Central government to take back its farm laws. I salute all the farmers and their leaders. For those who sacrificed their lives, we cannot bring them back. But we can express our solidarity and support to you, as Kejriwal and Mann said. You are not alone, the whole country is with you. We feel your pain and loss,” Chandrashekar Rao told the families that gathered at the event.
He accused the Central government of being insensitive to the needs of farmers, who have to struggle for everything. “Why should people fight for what should be theirs? Lose lives in the process? Why this majboori (helplessness),” Rao asked.
He said the agriculture history of Punjab should be written in golden letters and this was the state that fed the country through a green revolution when there was uncertainty over food supplies. “This is a state that gave us Bhagat Singh,” he said, adding the country would not forget the sacrifices of people of Punjab during the Independence movement.
He said among those martyred at Galwan, were soldiers from Punjab who fought along with Colonel Santosh Babu from Telangana who too was martyred in the conflict with China.
He said the Centre was unhappy with the Mann government’s decision to purchase green gram crops by providing a minimum support price, and referred to how the Centre was insisting that electricity meters be fixed for agricultural pump sets. “Telangana gives 24-hour free and quality power to all sectors. The Centre wants to suck the blood of farmers, and we have made it clear that we will not fix meters even if we have to lose our lives in the process,” he said, adding that before the state was formed, farmer suicides, 10 to 20 of them, occurred daily, there were power shortages, and there was none to listen to the woes of the farmers.
The Centre, he said, did not like state governments and Chief Ministers who spoke on farmers’ welfare, but instead mounted pressure on such states. “You are well aware of what allegations they levelled during the farmers’ struggle. They branded you as Khalistanis and traitors. My strong appeal to the farmers is to continue their movement .This movement should be carried out not only from Punjab and Haryana, but also all over the country. All the farmers from east, west, north and south should participate in the movement. This is our right,” he said.