Farmers’ Stir And MSP Issue

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Democracy in the country has become something like Hegelian dialectics: It is there and it is not there. Interpretations keep changing, with only one constant factor and that is erosion. When the farm laws were imposed it was in the name of development. Wiping away the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, the new laws were forced on the farmers all over the country. These new laws are the negation of democracy and denial of rights. The Constitution has defined the fundamental rights and asserting them when there is violation cannot be a reason for punishment. But there are plenty of incidents when those who assert their constitutional rights like right to speak, their attitude is attacked as detrimental to the concept of development. It is intolerance to any opposition. The innumerable cases slapped against the farmers were the follow up of the same undemocratic handling.

Immediately after the understanding was reached between the government and the SMK, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha organised in Kairana on December 12 its first Maha Panchayat and announced that if the government did not mend its communal policy, there is every possibility of it being voted out. Speaking about the minimum support price, it was stressed that the biggest success of the Dharna was that the minimum support price (MSP) had become a household theme everywhere. It is a fact that nobody has any inkling what made the Prime Minister withdraw the laws that he had imposed on the farmers in a ruthless undemocratic way. First as ordinances since there was lockdown and no Parliament session.

Later, when Parliament became operative, the bills were tabled and without any debate were passed as laws. The farmers refused to accept them and there were demonstrations all over the country which culminated into a dharna. But for the entire year, the Prime Minister refused to even see the farmers. Mostly the dialogues remained one sided, the government side remained stubborn and withdrawn. Now, without any consultation in Parliament, the three laws have been withdrawn. The dharna continued since there were other demands like MSP that had not been met. In fact the step in favour of MSP, fixing the amount for minimum support price, arrests the falling down of prices the corporate houses offer. In the process, it has been conceded that a committee would be set up to ensure minimum support prices (MSP) for all farmers along with other assurances, none of which were part of the laws that were passed and then repealed. The current demand for a legal guarantee for MSP has to be seen in the larger context of the situation of farmers. In 2014 and 2015, farmers went through the agony of declining commodity prices. Demonetisation and hurried roll-out of GST almost destroyed the agrarian sector and while trying to stage a comeback, they suffered hugely. It was not only the rural economy, primarily the non-farm sector, but entire agriculture.

Every opening was slowly ebbing in darkness as the economy itself faced a slowdown in 2016-17 followed by a pandemic which caused a steep decline. Majority of farmers were pushed into a situation that was dangerously precarious. Rural wages severely went down in real terms since 2014. In addition there were shrinking employment opportunities. Crisis was worsening in real terms.

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