Government prioritizing Ram temple over us, say farmers protesting in Delhi

Representational Pic

New Delhi (IANS) Ramesh Chauhan (58), a farmer from Uttar Pradesh, may not share his language with Ram Vishnu Sadashiv (70) from Solapur in Maharashtra, but they share a common hurt: of "getting secondary treatment over the Ram temple from the Central government", which brought them together in the national capital on Friday.

Sipping tea, sitting next to each other, after various leaders were done with their speeches, Sadashiv mixes Hindi and Marathi. "Leaders will only speak and our plight will not end until they decide to do something apart from talking".

"For the past four years, we have seen leaders only talking, and the only change that has come about is that our situation has turned from bad to worse. This government is more concerned and worried about a Ram temple but not Ram's children. They are prioritizing temple over farmers," Sadashiv told IANS.

"I wonder if Ram would really be happy with a temple while his children commit suicide. We are here to tell this government that 2019 is not far, and that we are not happy," says Sadashiv, as Chauhan nods.

Similar sentiments were shared by 65-year-old Sella Perumal from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu.

"The government has to see the welfare of the people first. What's the use of a temple if there are no farmers? We are children of God, and by protecting us, the government can serve God. A government should think about the people first, if they are fine, God will be happy too," said Perumal.

The gathering of over 50,000 farmers, seeking loan waiver and higher crop prices, from across the country saw people from different age groups ranging from aged farmers, who have seen no improvement in their situation for years, to young children, who lost their father due to farm debt.

"Farm debt led my father to commit suicide in 2016. He was the only earning member of the family. Now, my mother is working as a laborer. One of my relatives is sponsoring my education. After my father's death, my mother did not want me or my brother to join farming. I am here so that debt should be waived and no farmer dies the way he did," said 19-year-old Harsh from Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

Men and women from various groups were in the capital in a protest organized by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and Member of Parliament from Hatkanangle in Kolhapur (Maharashtra) Raju Shetty has introduced two private member's Bills in the Lok Sabha in 2017, seeking a loan waiver and guaranteed remunerative prices for agricultural commodities based on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

The AIKSCC has demanded a special session of Parliament so that these Bills are discussed and passed.

The farmers came to the national capital by spending their own money and slept on roads.

"We are so unhappy that we don't mind sleeping on roads. But we want the government to listen to our demands. Although there were some nice people who offered us a place to sleep at nominal rates," said Sunil Patra (49) from South 24 Parganas, West Bengal.

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