Farmers Protest: Centre

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 374

Toll 710
- Punjab 609; Haryana 75; Uttar Pradesh 6


We still do not know what all led to the prime minister unilaterally, without discussion even with his cabinet, announcing the repeal of laws. It could be BJP’s reading that the farm laws lacked popular support, the laws will impact Uttar Pradesh elections, its image because protest sustained despite all efforts by the government to break them, international pressure and so on. Subsequent to PM Modi’s announcement, the cabinet passed the decision, the Parliament repealed the laws, now the President has given his consent. This is indeed a huge win for the farmers, labourers, all parties sympathetic with the protest.

Yet, how the last two weeks have gone by, it is clear that the government still does not intend to listen to the farmers. While the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has unambiguously stated its position on six other matters, the government has displayed a piecemeal approach and not engaged with the farmers.

On the issues, while the government has decriminalised paddy straw burning, it has listed the Electricity Bill in the Parliament. While state governments have stated they will listen to Centre on the cases filed on many score thousand people, the Centre is silent on the issue – even about Delhi and Chandigarh which it governs. Ajay Mishra Teni continues as central minister and the government does not even recognise the 710 martyrs of the protests.

The Centre has made noises on Minimum Support Price, tried to deflect the issue to states, is ambiguous on Terms of Reference, farmers participation, and timeline to implement MSP. While other issues are Yes/No, we all understand that, given India’s immense diversity and cropping patterns, implementing MSP is a complex process. Making a law on guaranteed MSP is even more complex, though in my opinion necessary.

As of now, the government’s message is clear: while it has had to bow down on the farm laws, it wants to keep waters muddy and is resorting to its usual tactic – apathy and disengagement. Right from bottom to top, this is a government that shirks accountability. It will go to any extent to not deal with a situation and create distraction.

Inside the protest sites it is natural that the cadre and the many unions have different opinions. While some want to continue protesting, many who have lived on the roads for a year are also exhausted and want to return home. The message of the protest, the need for MSP has reached far and wide and there are clear indications that country-wide the farmers will continue questioning the government. The question being: does the government of India, the keeper of our tax payers money, want to stay a broker and write off huge loans by industry or does it also want to invest in rural India and rejuvenate the economy?

Given this background, SKM meets today. It is a critical meeting because SKM will decide its future course of action. We need to wait for the decision but do know: even from before Day 1, this is a protest led by the cadre, not the leaders. Ultimately, the will of the people will prevail. I hope SKM reads the ground well.

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