After a brief lull, the farmers’ protests are back to haunt the Indian government. The farmers, this time, have resorted to a new way of registering their dissent with the government by organising their own parliament ‘Kisan Sansad’. This was held on July 22 and ironically not very far from the Parliament. On one hand, where the farmers’ parliament debated on the APMC Act in two sessions, on the other, the Parliament resonated with the demands of the farmers. The opposition was seen pressing for ‘justice for farmers’, while a Union minister from the ruling BJP had to withdraw her comment where she called the farmers ‘hooligans’. All these facts are indicative of the fact that the farmers’ agitation is going to continue for a good amount of time to come. As far as the Modi government is concerned, it is not showing any genuine concern about the farmers protesting. So much so, it has come up with an electricity bill which is likely to further complicate the matter.
Farmers in Punjab have already become restive against this Electricity Bill of 2021 which has led the Modi government to harden its stand further. The July 22 episode is a testimony of the fact that the respective sides have reaffirmed their stands on the matter. The Modi government is bent upon implementing the three controversial farm laws, and the agitating farmers are sticking to the demand of repealing the same. Political parties in the opposition, however, are supporting the farmers’ cause and are pushing constant pressure on the government to repeal it. They even protested by carrying placards on the arrival of Union minister of agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar at the Parliament. Tomar, on the other hand, reiterated the government’s commitment to engage the farmers, but only if the farmers flag specific objections to the laws in question.
The Kisan Sansad recently called the law hollow and rejected it for being anti-farmer. Farmers’ agitation is showing all signs of escalation in other states, particularly in poll-bound states in early 2022, such as in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Amidst the escalating tensions, the farmers have called for a ‘Quit India Day’ on August 9 where farmers in Uttar Pradesh will initiate the ‘Modi Gaddi Chhodo’ campaign. This will be followed by a ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ in September. This maha-panchayat will ask farmers in Uttar Pradesh not to vote or support the BJP in the coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, the situation at the protest sites at Jantar Mantar, and the three borders – Singhu, Ghazipur, and Tikri, has become tense. The Modi government had enacted the three farm laws in September 2020, and farmers have been agitating since then. The farmers braved the biting cold, scorching sun, and the rain and with the support of central trade unions, bank and insurance employees’ unions including most of the political parties in opposition, they are still standing strong. Who will give in or succumb at the end, only time will tell!