PM’s surprise move to spike three contentious farm laws fails to end the logjam between protesting farmers and the government, writes Mudit Mathur
Farmers were ridiculed with all sorts of provocative jibe trolls — Khalistani, Terrorist, Maoist, Tukde-tukde gang — deliberate attempts inflicted upon them by the ruling dispensation discrediting the year-long farmers’ peaceful, non-violent movement across the peripheries of Delhi against three controversial farm laws. Thus, the sudden announcement of repealing the three farm laws on “Guru Purab” by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in coming winter session of parliament failed to break the deadlock. In pursuance to Modi’s announcement, decks were cleared by the cabinet for tabling repeal bills before the parliament but due to uncertain fate of law guaranteeing MSP and compensation to 700 martyr farmers and withdrawal of criminal cases against the farmers, the agitation will continue to haunt the government.
PM’s appeal utterly failed to invoke any desired results, because farmers decided to continue their peaceful non-violent movement until their other six demands also stood resolved. Holding the government responsible for the martyrdom of more than 700 farmers, they demanded compensation to their families and construction of a martyr’s memorial to immortalise their supreme sacrifices at Singhu Border.
The demands include law guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP), withdrawal of proposed Electricity Reforms and Seed Bills and sacking of union minister of state for Home Affairs Ajay Misra Teni whose convoy mowed down farmers killing hard heartedly four farmers and a journalist besides injuring over a dozens of farmers. They also demanded withdrawal of jail term for stubble burning, 50% subsidy on diesel and withdrawal of cases filed against farmers. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Samyukt Kisan Morcha sought immediate withdrawal of action against farm protesters who “have been implicated in hundreds of cases during this movement (June 2020 till date) in Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and several other states.”
“We noted that after 11 rounds of talks, you chose the path of unilateral declaration rather than a bilateral solution; nonetheless, we are glad that you have announced the decision to withdraw all three farm laws. We welcome this announcement and hope that your government will fulfill this promise at the earliest and in full,” said the letter. One of the frontiers among the farmers’ leaders, Rakesh Tikait, who relentlessly spearheaded farmers movement all over the nation creating consciousness among them about ill-effects of three laws over rural economy and deprivation of their rights, said the protesters would wait till the laws were repealed in the session starting on November 29 along with acceptance of other demands.
Raising their key demand on MSP, the SKM’s letter said: “Minimum Support Price based on the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50%) should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce, so that every farmer of the country can be guaranteed at least the MSP announced by the government for their entire crop.”
Apart from the electricity Bill and the demand for scrapping any penal action against farmers on air pollution, the letter referred to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in UP on October 3, when four protesters were killed after being hit by a convoy of three vehicles, including one owned by BJP minister Mishra.“Ajay Mishra Teni, the mastermind of Lakhimpur Kheri murder case and accused of section 120B, is still roaming freely and remains a Minister in your cabinet. He is also sharing the stage with you and other senior ministers. He should be sacked and arrested,” it said.
“During this movement, so far about 700 farmers have given their lives to the cause, as their supreme sacrifice. There should be compensation and rehabilitation support for their families. To build a martyrs’ memorial in the memory of the martyr farmers, land should be given at Singhu Border,” it said.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been camping on the peripheries of Delhi since November 2020, demanding withdrawal of three “black laws.” The BJP has faced massive anger in northern states, something it cannot afford as it foresees upcoming assembly elections as semi-finals for big elections to the 2024 national polls. The recent debacle in by-elections after huge humiliation in West Bengal could be pressing reason for unexpected decision to repeal farm laws as a damage control measure.
“Prime Minister, you have appealed to the farmers that now we should go back home. We want to assure you that we are not fond of sitting on the streets. We too desire that after resolving these other issues as soon as possible, we return to our homes, families and farming. If you want the same, then the government should immediately resume talks with the SKM on the above six issues,” the letter said.
Earlier apologising to the nation, the PM said in his address, “I want to say with a sincere and pure heart that may be something was lacking in our Tapasya (dedication) that we could not explain the truth, as clear as the light of the Diya, to some of our farmer brothers. But today is Prakash Parv, not the time to blame anyone. Today, I want to tell the country that we have decided to repeal the three farm laws.” The three farm laws were first promulgated through backdoor imposition of Ordinances in June 2020, and subsequently, passed without proper debate in parliament amid the pandemonium of fiery opposition.
“Today is the auspicious day of Guru Purab, and I would request all my protesting farmer friends to return home to your fields and your families and make a new beginning. Let us move forward afresh,” Modi appealed to agitating farmers whose continuous demonstrations against the Agri-policies made a record as they braved chilling winters, scorching hot and heavy rains on Delhi’s borders. “Whatever I did was for farmers. What I am doing is for the country,” he added. Before the big retreat, the PM defended the laws which, he claimed, would benefit small and marginal farmers in the country and were part of reforms initiatives.
The trust deficit in Prime Minister’s commitments gradually surfaced due to shallowness in action and after Karnal and Lakhimpur Kheri physical assaults and martyrdom of more than 700 farmers. The atmosphere turned highly tense and volatile with a loss of credibility. The Union government took stubborn stand after Modi himself mockingly called the protesting farmers — “Andolanjeevi” (those who survive on agitations) on the floor of Parliament. The BJP machinery attempted to brand their agitation as conspiracy of Khalistani separatists and funded by terrorist-Maoist groups.
In backdrop of sustained attack from Modi Bhakts with BJP rank and file, the farmers’ union unanimously resolved to continue their protests rejecting the appeal of PM Modi to go back to their homes unless they achieve something positive in their hand after braving tough weather conditions on Delhi borders.
Farmers’ leaders clarified that since first round of 11 rounds of talks, their demands were not confined to repeal of three laws but also sought revival of rural economy by way of statutory guarantee for MSP of all their farm produces. They are demanding determination of MSP based on Swaminathan Commission Report as also PM Modi promised them the formula to calculate MSP on the basis of input costs — including seeds, irrigation, electricity, fertilizers, pesticides, labour costs — plus minimum 50 percent of profit to be MSP.
But soon after it assumed power in 2014, the government started changing goalposts. It declined before the court to implement this formula. Niti Aayog drastically changed promised MSP concept of 2014 manifesto and suggested government could fill up the difference between Mandi prices and market prices but the schemes formulated more or less remained on the papers for media projections as image building exercise with minimal expenditure as compared to allocated budget.
The rural economy suffered a lot due to paradigm shift of pro-capitalist policies as seen in the name of reforms unsettling constitutionally upheld various labour laws, acquisition of farmer’s land, sale of public sector undertakings, privatisation of Electricity, Airports, Railways, Docks, Roads and Transport had depressing impact on rural economy with the cost escalation and reduction in job avenues after liberalisation of economic policies including fallout of demonetisation. The farmers remained determined to their commitment and solemn resolve for a complete repeal of the farm laws that they believed were “pro-corporate” and “anti-farmer” ruining the rural economy to gain ultimate control on their landholdings.
Ghastly massacre by mowing down peacefully protesting farmers from behind by convoy led by the son of Union Minister of State for Home in Lakhimpur Kheri and attempts to create a Hindu-Sikh divide terming them “Khalistani,” who mob lynched BJP workers in retaliation was also foiled wisely by Rakesh Tikait. He played a peacemaker’s role putting pressure on Prime Minister Modi to sack his junior minister colleague, who was accused as conspirator of entire act behind the crime.
The farmers unions perceived the decision to roll back farm laws as their big victory but political observers who keep close tracking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political moves feel otherwise. “Flexibility is not the persona of brand Modi, who never look behind or repent his decisions but unlike his past, the reasons for his retreat could be deeper than seen,” they opined.
It is the biggest policy reversal since Modi assumed the power in 2014. However, they don’t rule out the possibilities of heavy poll reversals as a reason behind sudden change of strategy pacifying the farmers as the crucial assembly elections in farmers dominated Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are just couple of months away and BJP debacle in these states could diminish his chances of returning back to power in 2024.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said that the government had completed all the formalities to repeal the three laws — Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 but he did not answer questions if the government will bring a law to guarantee Minimum Support Price, which has been another major demand of the protesting farmers who refused to go back empty-handed. The BJP-led government attempted to crush the farmers’ movement at every stage of the agitations.
“Farmers who have been protesting peacefully and hopefully for about a year now are the ones who did the true tapasya with faith. These annadaatas have taken the historic movement to the cusp of a historic first victory with their tapasya and are steadily taking this towards full victory, which will actually be a victory for democracy itself. This victory is not a question of someone’s pride or ego, but a matter of lives and livelihoods of millions of ignored and marginalised Indians,” said a communique jointly issued by SKM leaders including Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shiv Kumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’, Yudhvir Singh and Yogendra Yadav.
Barring BJP, all Punjab parties stood up for protesting farmers
The politics of Punjab revolves around the farmers as the state produce record food grain in the country and farmers of the area are more prosperous than other parts of the country. The farmers’ movement against the three agricultural laws emerged from Punjab and went global with the major decision to keep a distance from political leaders. It unbalanced political equations of national and regional political parties.
Prime minister Narendra Modi unilaterally imposed three farm laws, through backdoor by way promulgating Ordinances without adequate deliberations and consultations with stakeholders and its political allies. The move of PM Modi actually backfired with its long-time partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) walking out from coalition over the farmers issue and Akali Dal’s Harsimarat Kaur Badal resigning from union cabinet just ahead of state assembly elections early next year to save its political existence.
In an aftermath of farmers prolonged movement, the Punjab unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered the brunt of social isolation as their party was responsible for enacting the controversial laws. It further led to realignment of political equations as Punjab consists of more than 30 percent of Dalit population and looking into social dynamics ,SAD found Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as its new partner with whom it had forged alliance for greener pastures in the upcoming assembly elections.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the farmers’ agitation against the three “black laws” will be remembered as a watershed moment in the fight to protect democratic and human rights in the country. He urged farmers to be vigilant until the laws are not repealed.
Channi said the farmers’ agitation would always inspire the countrymen to fight for their rights while relentlessly waging a peaceful battle. In a veiled attack on former Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh, Channi warned, “Fresh conspiracies are being hatched to harm the interests of the farmers besides derailing the progress and prosperity of Punjab. The leaders who are welcoming the announcement of Prime Minister to repeal the laws are pseudo nationalist and are part and parcel of these anti-Punjab conspiracies.”
The PM’s move may tip the balance in Punjab, where the BJP has been reduced to a minor player after long-time ally Akali Dal broke ties over the farm laws. The state’s ruling Congress faces a challenge from its own former leader, Amarinder Singh who was forced to quit as Chief Minister in September. The PM Modi acted on his advice repealing the three farm laws to make a tie-up between the BJP and new outfit of Captain Amarinder Singh.
Channi said those welcoming the decision were supporting the atrocities meted out by the Union government against the agitating farmers. “What’s the rationale behind merrymaking as there is hardly any reason to rejoice since Punjab has lost more than 700 sons and daughters during the struggle?” he added. The Chief Minister said the announcement regarding the repeal of farm laws was meaningless until and unless a guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops was made.
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted, “The repealing of black laws a step in the right direction. Satyagrah of Kisan Morcha gets historic success. Your sacrifices have paid dividends. Revival of farming in Punjab through a road map should be the top priority for the Punjab government.”Another senior Congress leader and MP from Punjab, Manish Tewari, who is at centre of storm over contents of his book about soft handling of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, remarked, “The struggle of the farmers triumphed while arrogance has wilted.” “Long live Kisan-Mazdoor unity,” he added.
Following PM Modi’s one of the most historic policy reversals yet, Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal while talking to media, dismissed the possibility of a tie-up for the upcoming Punjab polls.
Reacting to the cancellation of the three farm laws, the Akali Dal chief told reporters, “700 lives have been lost (at the farmers’ protests). The country saw the martyrdom of these people. I had told the Prime Minister that the farmers won’t agree to the black laws that were framed by the government.”
“What we had said has turned out to be true,” reminding how the BJP’s oldest ally snapped ties with the ruling coalition last year. On being asked if his party can now consider an alliance with the BJP in Punjab, he said, ‘No’.
“While I congratulate farmers of Punjab, the country, and the world, my first thoughts go to families of 700 farmers martyred in the noble struggle! This, and the disgraceful incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri will always remain a dark blot on this government’s face,” he said.
Over the course of the last year, Akali Dal had urged the Centre several times to hold talks with farmers camping near the borders of Delhi. Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife Harsmirat Kaur, and many other party leaders had also led demonstrations. Former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur also attacked the centre while making an appeal for making the MSP for farm produce “a legal right” for the farmers.
Compared to other political parties, AAP still has space to accommodate some of the known faces of the farmers’ movement. AAP’s Raghav Chadha issued a video message, saying that the repeal of the farm laws is “a big victory for the country’s ‘annadata.’ An arrogant government finally succumbed to the historic protest of the farmers.”
The lowdown on farm laws, and what made farmers smell the rat
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act
This is aimed to allow “contract farming”, or allow farmers to enter into direct agreements with Agri-firms, exporters or large buyers to produce a certain crop for a pre-agreed price.
The stand of the government: The government stressed that crop prices under this law would be determined by market forces i.e., farmers would get paid more for sowing in-demand crops.
The government claimed the new law would allow barrier-free intra and inter-state trade under which farmers could sell in-demand crops at the highest possible prices, thereby maximising returns.
The government also claimed that this would eliminate agricultural middlemen, since the farmers would now deal directly with the end-buyers – the Agri-companies.
Farmers’ stand: Farmers were worried the new law would eliminate MSP – the guaranteed minimum price for their produce. They also feared the ‘corporatisation of agriculture’ – a scenario in which large corporates use their financial might to force unreasonably low prices on farmers.
Farmers apprehensions were that small and marginal landholders would be vulnerable to disadvantageous contracts unless sale prices were regulated. Congress MP P Chidambaram underlined that concern, calling for a clause linking MSP to the lowest price offered by private buyers.
The law did not explicitly discontinue MSPs (and the Prime Minister had insisted it would not) but farmers were concerned that allowing prices to be settled outside regulated spaces – i.e., the mandis – would make it difficult for the government to monitor each transaction and ensure fair prices.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act
The stand of the government: The government said this law would enable farmers barrier-free intra and inter-state trade of all farm produce, which they could, again theoretically, sell at markets of their choice, even if in other states. Farmers would also not have to pay a tax collected by the state.
Currently farm produce is sold at notified wholesale markets, or mandis, run by Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, or APMCs. Farmers take their produce to local markets, where licensed middlemen buy from them – at prices set by auction – before selling to institutional buyers.
Farmers’ stand: Farmers, however, pointed out that in practice small and marginal farmers may find it difficult to avail the potentially better prices at markets further away because of constraints on travel and storage, as well as associated costs. That was precisely why, they argued, some chose to sell in local wholesale markets even though prices were better elsewhere.
Farmers were also angry with the wording of Section 8 of this law, which said farmers could approach a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) for dispute resolution. They argued that they – particularly the smaller farmers – were not powerful or influential enough to access the SDM office.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act
This law was to scrap the government’s power to limit stocks of essential food items, except under extraordinary circumstances. It also removed certain goods – like edible oil and onions – from that list.
It further enabled the government to regulate the supply of such commodities, or even re-include them on the list. The stock limit would be based on price rise in the market.
How BJP leaders spewed venom against farmers’ campaign
BJP leaders have made several offensive, provocative and even threatening remarks about the farmers ever since they started protesting at Delhi’s borders and in other states voicing their concerns about the three controversial laws, which were recently repealed by Prime Minister Modi. They made the life of farmers’ leaders hell with unsolicited comments questioning their patriotism and loyalty for the nation. Most of these remarks aimed to discredit the protests, making it seem like it was not farmers with valid concerns but forces with “vested interests” who were protesting.
‘It’ll take just 2 minutes to discipline you’
Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra Teni said about the protesting farmers, “Face me, it will take just two minutes to discipline you fellows,” Mishra was heard saying in a viral video.” “I am not only a minister or an MP and MLA… People who know me even before I became a parliamentarian know that I never run away from taking on challenges. The day I accept a challenge you all will have to leave not only Palia (a local place in the district) but Lakhimpur (his constituency) itself.”
Mishra’s remarks came to focus after his son Ashish Mishra Monu allegedly mowed down the protesting farmers by a VIP convoy from behind, brutally killing four farmers, a journalist in terror-like attack. Three BJP workers too were killed in retaliatory clashes while their vehicle overturned after it lost control in Lakhimpur Kheri. Several farmers sustained grave injuries. While Ashish is currently in judicial custody, his father continues to be a member of Modi’s cabinet and farmers are demanding that he be sacked.
‘Khalistanis and Maoists’
The head of BJP’s IT cell, Amit Malviya, too jumped on the bandwagon. He alleged that the protesting farmers have links to both Khalistanis and Maoists. He also accused Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of trying to “burn down” Delhi, since Kejriwal had expressed his support to the farmers.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar claimed that there were “unwanted elements” in the protests who were openly supporting Khalistan. He also said that there were slogans being raised like “If we could assassinate Indira Gandhi, then why not Narendra Modi.” Though he said his government was looking into utterances by these “elements” but nothing ever came to substantiate this charge.
Humming the ‘tukde-tukde’ tune
Former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi used one of the BJP’s favourite monstrosities to attack the protests, saying that the movement had been hijacked by the “tukde-tukde gang”. “The kind of slogans that were raised at Delhi’s latest farmers movement and the manner in which it is being run on the Shaheen Bagh model clearly show that the ‘tukde-tukde gang’ and anti-CAA forces have left no stone unturned to hijack the movement,” Sushil Modi had tweeted in Hindi.
‘Guinea pigs for anarchist designs’
BJP national general secretary B.L. Santhosh expressed that farmers were not acting on the basis of their own concerns, but instead being led by others including activist Medha Patkar and AAP leaders. “Don’t allow farmers to become guinea pigs for anarchist designs,” he tweeted.
The then Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too joined the chorus of BJP leaders discrediting the farmers’ protest, saying that the “tukde-tukde gang” had taken over the protests and a “sinister design” is involved. This is why talks between farmers and the Centre had failed, he claimed.
‘Leftists, Maoists infiltrated into their ranks’
Union minister Piyush Goyal claimed that it wasn’t really farmers who were protesting, as the protest had been infiltrated by “Leftists” and “Maoist elements”. They were protesting not on farmers’ issues but to demand the release of those arrested for “anti-national activities. “We now realise that the so-called farmer agitation hardly remains a farmers’ agitation. It has almost got infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements, a flavour of which we saw over the last two days when there were extraneous demands to release people who have been put behind bars for anti-national and illegal activities,” said the minister.
‘China and Pakistan behind protests’
Another Union minister Raosaheb Danve remarked, “The agitation that is going on is not that of farmers. China and Pakistan have a hand behind this. Muslims in this country were incited first. What was said (to them)? That NRC is coming, CAA is coming and Muslims will have to leave this country in six months. Did a single Muslim leave? “Those efforts didn’t succeed and now farmers are being told that they will face losses. This is the conspiracy of other countries,” he said.
‘Terrorists with Khalistani flags’
A common buzzword among BJP leaders trying to pull down the farmers’ protest has been that the protestors are “Khalistanis” with support from outside India. One of those to make this claim, without evidence, was the BJP MP from Dausa, Rajasthan, Jaskaur Meena. Meena also claimed that farmers had AK-47 rifles, even though the protests have been peaceful. “Ab ye krishi kanoon ka hi dekhlijiye, ki atankwadi baithe hue hain, aur atankwadiyon ne AK-47 rakhi hui hai, Khalistan ka jhanda lagaya hua hai. (Now see these thing about the farm laws, that terrorists are sitting, and terrorists have A-47, have flags of Khalistan),” Meena was heard saying in a video tweeted by the official Rajasthan BJP account.
‘Goons posing as farmers’
BJP national secretary Y. Satya Kumar claimed that the protesters weren’t farmers at all but were “goons.” He also called those expressing their dissent as “Khalistanis” and “jihadis.”“The manner in which the goons posing as so-called farmers are carrying out violent agitations in Uttar Pradesh, seems to be not a coincidence but a well-planned experiment,” he said in the tweet. He added, “jihadi and Khalistani elements want to spread unrest in the state.”
‘Protest hijacked by extremists’
BJP national general secretary and Uttarakhand state unit in-charge Dushyant Kumar Gautam had claimed that “pro-Khalistan and pro-Pakistan” slogans were being raised at the farmers’ protests, even though no such slogans had been reported.“The agricultural laws are for the whole country, but why are the protests only in Punjab? Slogans of Khalistan Zindabad and Pakistan Zindabad have been raised by people in the protests. How can it be called a protest then?” said Gautam. “Extremist elements have hijacked the protest and are raising slogans for those who are anti-national forces.”
‘Well planned conspiracy’
Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari too followed the “tukde-tukde gang” line, adding that the protests were a “well-planned conspiracy.” “Presence of individuals and groups who opposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and CAA at Shaheen Bagh clearly establishes that the “tukde-tukde” gang is trying to experiment Shaheen Bagh 2.0 and create unrest under the grab of farmers’ protest,” he claimed.
Repeal of farm laws Modi’s biggest climbdown so far
PM Modi decision to repeal three controversial farm laws that saw angry street protests over the last year is considered to be his biggest policy reversal ever since assuming power in 2014. One reason, many believe, is that PM Modi has not faced a mass movement against his regime. A protest by the influential Patel community in Gujarat in 2015 demanding quotas in government jobs lingered on for four years before a resolution.
A months-long protest led mostly by Muslim women in a Delhi neighbourhood against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was cleared last March amid measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. But none were as large and intense as the ongoing farmers’ protests, and did not challenge the government in the way the rebellious farmers had done.
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced decision to repeal the three farm laws, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra retorted, “He is sensing defeat in the upcoming assembly elections and has started realising the reality of the country that it has been built by farmers.””Six hundred farmers martyred, more than 350 days of struggle, Narendra Modi ji your minister’s son crushed farmers to death, you didn’t care. Your party leaders insulted farmers and called them terrorists, traitors, goons, miscreants, you yourself called them andolanjeevi, beat them with sticks, arrested them,” Priyanka added.
The former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot said the government should not only ensure a legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) as demanded by farmers but must also provide a regulation or a law ensuring that procurement takes place. “The BJP’s by-poll losses and a looming bad performance in the upcoming assembly polls led to the announcement of repealing the farm laws but farmers’ distrust of government will not go away with one rollback,” he asserted.
Trinmool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which@BJP4 India treated you. This is your victory! My deepest condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this fight.
Extending support to the farmers’ movement against the three farm laws, Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief and former Chief Minister, said, “If his party comes to power in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, its government will give Rs 25 lakh each to farmers who died during the farm laws agitation.” “The life of a farmer is priceless because he grows foodgrains for others,” he added in a tweet in Hindi.
Akhilesh said that the Modi government could not be trusted, they could bring back the laws after the elections are over. “These people think this fake apology will return them to power but the people understand all this. The laws have been repealed for votes. How will the murderers of Lakhimpur be brought to justice,” he questioned?
BSP president Mayawati on Monday charged that some BJP leaders were vitiating the atmosphere by their provocative statements on the issue of repeal of farm laws and asked that they be reined in to instill confidence among farmers. She also demanded that besides the repeal of farm laws, the other demands of the protesting farmers should be met by the government so that they can return to their homes.
Mayawati did not name any BJP leader but she targeted the remarks by BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj that the laws could be brought again, if needed “Bills are made and repealed. They will come again and will be made again. It hardly takes any time (bills to bante rehte hai, bigarhte rehte hai…vaapas aa jaayenge, dobaaraa ban jaayenge…koi der nahi lagteehai),” he had said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar also asserted that Centre wouldn’t have repealed farm laws if there were no polls in UP and other neighbouring states in near future.“The people in power, when they visited the villages in some parts of these states. They got some different kind of reception from the locals. Considering this, they might have sensed what kind of treatment they will get when they go to seek votes. It seems that on that backdrop, this practical decision was taken,” Pawar added saying “If there were no elections in these states in the near future, this decision would not have been taken.”
Ghanwat strikes a discordant note: ‘Will rally 1 lakh farmers in support of farm laws’
Maharashtra-based farm union Shetkari Sanghatana chief Anil Ghanwat, one of the members of a panel set up by the Supreme Court to examine the laws, has declared his intent to rally at least one lakh farmers in the national capital in a bid to signal support for the three contentious farm laws that are set to be repealed in the wake of massive protests.
“Within a few months, we will bring at least one lakh farmers to Delhi to support the reforms and organise an event for a day or a week to make our voices heard,” Ghanwat told reporters in Delhi.
“This is really important as the repeal has set precedent for future governments to not bring the much-needed reforms in the agriculture sector. We will prove that there is support for the reforms too,” he added. He said such an event was not conducted earlier “as we didn’t want to create a farmer versus farmer scenario in Delhi.”
Ghanwat said a show of support for the farm laws is important as the repeal has “set precedent for future governments” to deny reforms in the sector. He also urged the apex court to immediately release the panel’s report, submitted in March, to make farmers aware about the laws’ benefits.“However, now we have no option but to protest and make our voices heard. I will also go across the country to inform farmers of their benefit from farm reforms,” he added.
Ghanwat’s comments came four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three laws will be repealed in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. The PM also urged the protesting farmers to return home. The farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s borders for almost a year, seeking a repeal of the three laws.
Ghanwat alleged in the media that the government’s decision is a “political” gambit to “influence” assembly election outcomes in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. He had said that PM Modi chose his party interests in UP and Punjab over the farmers’ interests.
Ghanwat disclosed before media that he has written to Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, urging him to consider releasing the report of the panel as soon as possible, or authorise the panel or him to do so.
“The current agriculture policy has forced farmers to commit suicide and remain poor for decades and it can’t go on like this,” he added. Speaking about the farmers’ demand for a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP), Ghanwat said the MSP regime — which covers water-intensive paddy and wheat — has led to water table decline in Punjab and Haryana, leading to threat of desertification.
Other allied sectors of agriculture, which are the fastest-growing, don’t function under the MSP regime, he said. The money wasted to maintain MSP should be used to promote diversification and sustainable agriculture, he added.