Farmers Protest: Green Towel

   Posted by: aman   in Other

March 22, 2021

Day 117

Toll 313


Green Towel

The two Mahapanchayats in Karnataka – Shivamogga and Haveri – in the last two days have been a great success. Today is a march from the Railway Station to the Vidhan Souda (Assembly) against the Farm Laws.

Through the decades, Karnataka has been a land of great social movements and also in the past few decades, extremely opportunistic politics.

The choice of Shivamogga as a venue for the Mahapanchayat was for two reasons:

a) it is current CM Yediyurappa, also known as a farmer leader, home turf. The question is direct: does BJP’s Yediyurappa support the anti-farmer Farm Laws?

b) In 1951, Kagodu, that falls in the Shivamogga region was the site of the first farmers movement after independence of India. Farmers had protested the measuring instrument Kolaga used to measure produce grown by tenant farmers and demanded ownership of land they were cultivating.

Tikait has exhorted farmers to march to Bangalore on their tractors, to lay siege on Bangalore the way north Indian farmers have laid siege on Delhi. That might be a tall order given how splintered the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) has been in the last decades since the passing away of its founder Prof Mahanta Devaru Nanjundaswamy. MDN also collaborated with Tikait’s father, Baba Tikait, to found the Bhartiya Kisan Union in the 1980s.

Yet, the visit by Tikait, Darshan Pal, Yuddhaveer Singh has re-ignited the farmer’s movement. Both rallies asserted the farmer’s role in the politics of the state. Now it is upon KRRS and Hasiru Sena and many other allied organisations to hold up the struggle in the state and in south India.

In Karnataka, the green towel is a symbol of a fighting farmer. Started by MDN, the swirling of the green shawls/towels in a meeting symbolises assertion, consent to a decision by the union members and a bugle call for a collective fight. The green towel is unfurled, it could potentially change the ground.

An aside, but significant in the writing of history. Yesterday, in a meeting in Bangalore, Darshan Pal said: when we stopped trains in Panjab in October 2020, we started facing shortage of fertilisers and coal. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met us on November 13th, 2020. He offered to start goods trains if we allowed passenger trains. We were ready to form a committee and discuss our demands with the government but we insisted on blocking passenger trains. Everything could have been settled, but the government did not start the goods trains and we did not form the committee. Then we decided to march to Delhi.

Rest, you know…

Btw, the Q&A in Darshan Pal’s session lasted over an hour. One of the longest I have seen. While the farmers demands are crystal clear, we all understand them, the long sessions shows how much more the movement needs to be made simple, easy to access. I remember when I came to Bangalore in 1998, the famous MDN led KRRS attack on KFC had happened two years back. At that time, in the heyday of neo-liberalism, the news went out as an incident of outrage. MDN had opposed foreign foods. Now, 35 years later, we are so entrenched. It takes us so long to grasp basics – unlearning is hard!

Green Towel waving sequence from the Shivamogga Mahapanchayat, thanks to Gauri Lankesh News.

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