Hundreds of farmers continue to protest in and around Delhi as talks with the Centre continue over the recently passed Farm Acts. As the protests enter their 12th day, the farmers remain undaunted by the ongoing cold wave, and remain camped along the borders of Delhi. The latest round of talks, held on December 5 had proven inconclusive. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has called another meeting on December 9.
Against this backdrop, various farm groups have given a call for a Bharat Bandh on December 8. This call to action has received widespread support from many opposition parties including the Aam Aadmi Party which is incharge of Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is slated to visit the Singhu border today had, on Sunday extended support to the 'Bharat Bandh'. He had said that all AAP workers across the country will support the nationwide strike and appealed to all citizens to support the farmers.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Monday morning took to Twitter stating that her party would also support the bandh.
While the BSP supremo had made headlines some time ago after commenting that she would consider joining hands with the BJP to counter the SP - this seems to be a sentiment of the past.
The Samajwadi Party incidentally is also supporting the protests on December 8. However, the party's efforts to join the ongoing protests have been met with opposition from the police. With Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav scheduled to visit Kannauj to stage a demonstration in support of the farmers, police force had been deployed outside his residence at Vikramaditya Marg earlier today. According to the latest update by news agency ANI, the police have now taken Samajwadi Party MLCs Rajpal Kashyap and Aashu Malik into custody while they were trying to visit party office.
"Why are the police stopping us? This is undeclared emergency. Why is Akhilesh ji being stopped?," Kashyap was quoted as saying.
Many of the Bandh supporters are incidentally former allies of the BJP. "Shiv Sena president and CM Uddhav Thackeray is against the Central laws which are anti-farmer and anti-labour. We support the Bharat bandh," Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai told PTI on Sunday night.
Another former ally, Shiromani Akali Dal had had quit the NDA when the controversy over the farm Acts first began. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday appealed to Punjabis to support the strike. Stating that "the fight for justice" had now become a fight of the 'annadaata' (someone who provides food) against the central government, he accused the Centre of "deliberately delaying" while responding to the farmers' demands.
Several major opposition parties have also come together to release a joint statement regarding their support for the Bharat Bandh. The signatories for this includes Congress President Sonia Gandhi, MK Stalin from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar.
"We the undersigned leaders of political parties extend our solidarity with the ongoing massive struggle by the Indian farmers organised by various kisan organisations from across the country and extend our support to their call for a Bharat bandh on December 8 demanding the withdrawal of these retrograde Agri-laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill," begins the press note for the same.
The letter also includes political collectives among its signatories. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah for example is a signatory as the head of the Peoples' Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.
"The central government must adhere to the democratic processes and norms and meet the legitimate demands of our Kisans-Annadatas," tweeted another signatory, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury.
The Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) are also signatories in this press release.
While several of the signatories have shared the details of the press note online, others have made separate announcements putting forth their support.
"Bharat Band has our full support and active support," tweeted Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav sharing a post by the party handle.
Another party which has have extended their support to the Bandh is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi which took to social media stating that the Bandh had its "full support".