The farmers’ siege on the outskirts of Jodhpur city continued unabated on the 26th day on Friday. Farmers are protesting and demanding that the Rajasthan Government fulfil their charter of 21 demands. The protest is being organised under the aegis of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), the RSS-affiliate farmers body are from villages of Jodhpur district.
Thousands of farmers are camping in the Mandakla village some 20 kilometers from Jodhpur. They had been trying to reach into Jodhpur city, but administration had put up barricades to stop them. Initial talks held earlier this week failed and the farmers have stayed put since. Farmers had travelled across fields and foot trails to reach Jodhpur. The agitation started while chief minister Gehlot was busy trying to prevent his government from being toppled.
Speaking to The Free Press Journal Hemraj the Prant Sangathan Mantri of BKS said, “Farmers were being given subsidy on electricity bills by the Vasundhara Raje government which has been discontinued by the Gehlot government. Further they would be issued bills every six month, but now they are getting bills every month and penalty is being levied on non payment. The country is reeling under the Corona pandemic and crops are badly affected. When practically every section of the society is getting some form of relief, the farmers should also be supported. The least the government can do is to do away with the electricity bills and penalty for the last six months. The bills are highly escalated.”
“The locust swarms have completely destroyed the last two crops and farmers need compensation to survive. They face extremely hard times,” added Hemraj.
Jodhpur, situated in Western Rajasthan is the constituency and home turf of chief minister Ashok Gehlot. It is incidentally is also the constituency of Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The districts of Western Rajasthan are those that are worst affected by locusts. Farmers’ protests by Congress and CPIM had been a major political issue in Rajasthan prior to assembly elections in 2018 and had served to create a mood against the BJP. The current agitation has all potential to trouble the government if it gains momentum across more districts.