Electricity workers and farmers unite for Feb 3 protests

Concerned about the possible enactment of the Electricity Bill, peasants and workers will come together on Wednesday to decry the anti-people policies of the central government.

Farmers and workers from electricity sector will demonstrate outside electricity office across India on February 3, 2021 in opposition of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, the three anti-farmer-dubbed laws and the labour codes of the central government, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

According to All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Finance Secretary P. Krishnaprasad, “The protest by the electricity department workers is important to show the farmer-worker unity. It is also a warning to the Modi-regime.”

He said that the struggle is especially important after the Union Budget 2021 speech wherein Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there will be further disinvestment of the energy sector. The farmer leaders said this showed the real intention of the central government that had previously promised to do away with the Electricity Bill that was opposed by farmers.

Provisions under the Bill do away with subsidies that provide Rs. 8 per unit of electricity will increase to Rs. 12 or Rs. 13 per unit. Farmer leaders feared that such increase in input cost could lead to a corresponding increase in farmer suicide.

Meanwhile, All India Kisan Mahasabha and AIKSCC Working Group member Rajaram Singh said that peasants hoped the government will uphold their promise made during talks with farmer leaders despite not taking a clear stand in this regard.

“Do not again betray peasants of India. As for the January 26 incident, everyone now knows what happened. So, these fake charges on farmers should be withdrawn. There needs to be a proper environment for talks to continue,” he said.

In the same vein, he condemned the barricading of farmers who are hailed as India’s “anadaatas” and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remember his promise of doubling farmers’ incomes. Leaders also reminded that Modi has made assurances of C2+50 percent Minimum Support Price to all farmers since 2014.

“The government is already benefiting corporates as the Budget has shown but this nation is not only of corporates,” said Singh.

Taking this further, Working Group member Dr. Sunilam speaking from Gwalior, said that farmers have been protesting in the area for the past 31 days until they were attacked by goons on January 31. He alleged that the goons were Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers who came to disrupt the peaceful demonstration on the instruction of Union Minister Narednra Singh Tomar. Moreover, FIR has been lodged on protesting farmers, reminiscent of the treatment at Delhi borders.

Accordingly, farmer leaders declared a week-long campaign from February 3 to February 10 where people at the district-level will dissent against the government and police repression on farmers.

Lastly, Krishnaprasad emphasised that farmers who had previously been removed from the Palwal protest site by local police on January 28 succeeded in reclaiming the area on February 1. Local people resolved to continue protests in the same area.


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