By: Arun Srivastava
Representatives of 35 farmers’ organisations rejecting Modi government’s offer to set up a new committee which would include the agriculture experts and economists to look into issues, has not come as a surprise. Narendra Modi deputing his ministers to talk to the agitating farmers had made it explicit that he was playing to the gallery, was not at all serious in resolving the farmers’ crisis, tried to send the message that he was concerned of the miseries of the farmers, but in reality it was his machination to test the perseverance and patience of the farmers.
Initially Modi must have realised that any attempt to denigrate and disintegrate the movement would not succeed as the present farmers’ movement has already acquired the character of mass movement. This was for the first time in the history that the rich farmers and the middle order peasants have come together to fight the designs of the Modi government to crush them for serving the class interest of the capitalists and corporate sector.
It is usually perceived that the farmers and the peasants have antagonistic relations. In the past farmers rallying behind Shetkari Sanghathana or Kisan Union of Tikait and opposing the peasants was cited as the example of their incompatibility. But the demand for the abrogation of the three laws, detrimental to the interest of agriculture have made them join hands and hit the streets. The fact of the matter is the character of economy has changed and the globalisation has brought about immense changes in the ground realities. This division of the farmers and the peasants on the caste and class line has in fact been at the base of the decline of the agriculture in recent times. They have come to realise this bare fact.
Modi nursed the view that he would succeed in widening the schism between the farming community and eventually make them agree to his proposal. But he failed to realise that the farming community would not accept this and instead retaliate. This was manifest in farmers’ representatives unanimously seeking repeal of the three laws that they have described as being against the interest of the farm community.
The farmers have come to realise the utter contempt which Modi nursed against them. After the meeting they alleged that the government was planning to turn them into a band of landless peasants by encouraging and facilitating the big houses and capitalists to purchase their lands at throw away prices.
The disquieting fact is that the IT cell of BJP and some of its leaders have started casting aspersion on the farmers of Haryana and Punjab, by questioning why the farmers of Maharashtra and Karnataka and other states were not participating. Creating split and schism have been the tested and tried mechanism of BJP. But they ought to know that farmers from other states have also been participating in the agitation. Besides the farmers from UP and Bihar had also converged. The president of the Bharat Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan said farmers from other states have also participated.
An insight into the agitation will make it clear that the BJP IT cell and its leaders have been trying to project the agitation as supported by the Khalistani elements and the Sikhs were anti Modi. Sad enough the BJP leaders are indulging in worst nature of vilification campaign which was detrimental to the interest of the country.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre and the BJP were resorting to all these tactics to create confusion and malign the image and character of the agitation. A BKU leader said; “The government was not willing to accept our demand which was why it came out with the proposal to form a five-member committee to look into the issues related to the new farm laws.”
The leaders told in clear and plain words there was no need for any fresh discussion. The only action the government is supposed to take is to scrap the three laws. General Secretary of Punjab-based Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) Sarwan Singh Pandher said the government was trying to divide the protesters by not inviting all the unions. He said this was the reason that the Prime Minister is not holding this meeting.
It is by now clear that Modi is following a two-pronged strategy to deal with farmer protests, engage in an unconditional discussion with the protesting farmers but don’t withdraw its three controversial farm laws as of now. Compulsion to gratify his corporate friends has been so onerous that Narendra Modi dared to trample all the executive norms and constitutional provisions in his pursuit to thrust the newly enacted three agriculture laws on the farmers, who he claims are close to his heart.
The most interesting aspect of the Modi’s opera was his fierce insistence to the farmers to accept the new laws which he had enacted for their welfare. While Modi continued with his demagogy, the agitating farmers shot back, which farmer or farmers’ organisation had requested him to enact these laws.
The farmers leaders also sought to know the real character of the so called reforms brought by him. The farmer leaders asked Modi to name the organisation or the individual who had approached him with the request to bring these laws. These leaders sought to know in what way these laws would reform the Indian agriculture and made it profitable avocation. So far this has a subsistence character.
While Modi was finding tough to come out with a plausible reply and clarify their queries, the agitating farmers assembled at the Delhi-Haryana border for the past six days today hardened their stance and made it clear that they would further intensify the agitation to expose the bluff of Modi-Shah combine. Lack of utter concern and sincerity on the part of Modi to find a resolution to the crisis was clearly evident in his threat issued through his “Man Ki Baat” soliloquy on Sunday that his government would not relent. Modi even accused the farmers of organising the protest at the behest of some political forces.
Really one feels ashamed at his remark. How could the prime minister of a country ridicule and insult his own people. This is nothing else but the sheer manifestation of frustration and arrogance. Farmers protesting against the Centre’s three farm laws have expressed apprehension that these will pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. Really it is intriguing how could Modi government betray the trust of crores of farmers for benefitting his corporate and capitalist friends?
“Ultimately these so-called reforms will lead to replication of old structures outside mandis. Creating two market spaces with two completely different sets of rules is a recipe for disaster,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture. “Government will not come to know anything about transactions in these new markets. Not knowing will give the excuse not to act. Farmers fear this, rightly so,” she said. Farmers have seen their economic clout diminish over the last three decades. Once accounting for a third of India’s gross domestic product, they now produce only 15% of gross domestic product, which is valued at $2.9 trillion a year. (IPA Service)