It was shocking to learn that family members had been warned not to meet Rahul Gandhi. That pressure was mounted was confirmed by the family members of the victims. Rahul’s rally was a huge affair, with grassroots Congress workers sparing no effort to mobilise people. Incidentally, the event provided a golden opportunity to various leaders to display their solidarity. A report, for Different Truths.
Eight days of farmers’ agitation have passed off peacefully. The only major event during this period was the visit of Congress president Rahul Gandhi to Mandsaur district, which saw six persons killed in violence last year. Five of them were killed by police bullets. Congress arranged the visit of Rahul Gandhi to coincide with the first anniversary of this brutal act of the police. Besides addressing a massive rally, Rahul also met the family members of those who were killed by the police.
It was shocking to learn that family members had been warned not to meet Rahul Gandhi. That pressure was mounted was confirmed by the family members of the victims. Rahul’s rally was a huge affair, with grassroots Congress workers sparing no effort to mobilise people. Incidentally, the event provided a golden opportunity to various leaders to display their solidarity. Seated on the dais beside Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia was Digvijay Singh, convener of the coordination committee, Arun Yadav, former president of the state Congress Committee, Suresh Pachauri, former Central Minister, Kanti Bhuria, also a former Central Minister and representatives of Mahila Congress and other leaders. The rally sent a positive message to the common Congress members.
Congress leaders claimed that the administration adopted every possible tactic to sabotage the rally. But people by and large defied the threats held out by the local administration. While Congress leaders were celebrating the highly successful Rahul event, leaders of other peasants’ organisations, which gave the call for the ten-day agitation, blamed Congress for breaking the solidarity of farmers. They are of the view that if all the organisations including Congress would have jointly staged the events it would have left a very solid impact on the government.
Besides Congress, Megha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam, and their associates held a separate public meeting in Mandsaur. They were critical of Congress holding a separate rally. Yet another protest was held by leaders like Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, etc. This protest was also joined by Shiv Kumar Sharma “Kakkaji”, president of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, one of the major organisers of the ten-day Kisan agitation. Surprisingly, Praveen Togadia also accompanied the two Sinhas. These leaders are supporting the ongoing Gram Bandhi agitation wherein farmers are attempting to prevent the sale of farm produce, including milk and vegetables in cities. The agitation had little effect in Mandsaur and nearby districts.
Meanwhile, the government is making all-out efforts to win over the support of rural people, including farmers. The MP government has decided to waive electricity dues of 88 lakh poor families, which includes a substantial number of farmers who will be benefited by this decision. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting headed by the chief minister. Named Saral Biji Bill Scheme, it will pile on more burden on the cash-strapped exchequer and could prove to be a political masterstroke.
On June 13, CM Chouhan will switch on the scheme to give power to BPL households at Rs. 200 per month. State government spokesman and minister Narottam Mishra said “Filling of forms for the electricity dues waiver request will start from June 13 in every block. Beneficiaries registered under Mukya Mantri Jan Kalyan Yojana will need to submit their electricity bills as evidence. Their dues will first be “frozen” and then waived. The documentation will take a month from July to August.”
After August, these beneficiaries will get power at a flat rate of Rs. 200 per month. For the amount, they may use one fan, one light bulb and run a television, set said officials.
Meanwhile, Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched a fierce attack on Rahul Gandhi. Without naming the Congress president, he said that people who do not know the difference between onion and garlic were trying to reap the harvest of votes in the name of farmers. Chouhan said that no government other than the BJP has cared for farmers and to improve their lives. “Some people are concerned about farmers these days. People who had never purchased a single grain are crying hoarse in the name of farmers. Those who do not know the difference between onion and garlic are trying to reap the harvest of votes in the name of Kisan. They are trying to become fake farmers,” said Chouhan breaking his silence over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in Mandsaur.
Photo from the Internet