Farmers have called the bluff of the Modi government

An insight into the developments during last the four months makes it absolutely clear that PM Modi never desired to help the farmers

Farmers sitting at Singhu Border to protest centre’s farm reform laws in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Farmers sitting at Singhu Border to protest centre’s farm reform laws in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Arun Srivastava/IPA

Frantic efforts of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to break the farmers’ agitation lie shattered on the streets of Delhi. The rustic farmers refused to subscribe to his well-crafted and nicely worded proposal which was nothing but a collage of lofty lies meant to befool and confuse them. Shockingly, the make believe edifice of PM Narendra Modi which he has built with the help of his corporate friends crumbled down pathetically, leaving before him the only alternative of launching a brutal crackdown on the farmers and force them to agree to his proposal.

By refusing to subscribe to the proposal which was sent by the Prime Minister to the agitating farmers through his lieutenant Amit Shah, the agitating farmers made it abundantly clear they were ready to face all the consequences for safeguarding and protecting the future of the country. The farmers have hurt the ego of a person who does not like question and the word no. An insight into the developments during last the four months make it absolutely clear that he never desired to help the farmers.

Once the farmers resorted to the agitation, he tried to camouflage the laws and started talking of the benefits of the farmers. But still today Modi has not been honest to the farmers. He is trying to take them for a ride. The efforts of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah lacked sincerity. More than being a sincere effort to find the solution, they were primarily aimed to evaluate the ground realities, map the resilience of the agitating farmers and mood of the participants before resorting to a final crack down on them.

The fact of the matter was that through his action he wanted to project the farmers as the villains who were reluctant to cooperate with the government in resolving the crisis. It was the part of the same design under which the farmers were defiled as supporters of Khalistanis and acting at the behest of the forces detrimental to the interest of the country. The meeting simply endorsed the previous belief. Shah simply reiterated the offers made by him and by three other junior ministers during their five rounds of meetings with the leaders. He did not come out with any new offer.

The farmers had demanded to give legal status to the MSP. It was not there. In the proposal sent earlier to 13 agitating farmer unions, the Centre promised a written assurance for MSP, allowing farmers to go to court to resolve disputes instead of a sub-divisional magistrate and scrapping of the Electricity Amendment bill, which they opposed. The government also offered to make amendments in the laws to address the concerns of farmers in various areas. To allay fears that big corporates will take over farmlands, the government said it can be clarified that no buyer can take loans against farmland nor any such condition will be made to farmers.

Much against the farmers’ demand to completely scrap the three laws, the government offered some amendments. One thing is explicitly clear that Modi and his ministers were playing with the nerves of the farmers and were patiently waiting for their getting tired and exhausted. Even before the government's written proposals came in, the farmers had in fact decided that they would continue their protest till the government repeals the farm laws. "We do not accept any amendment in the laws, we want total removal," the farmers' representatives said.

It was obvious that the protesting farmers would not agree to any such outrageous offer and would reject the offer of amendments in farm laws. They have now decided to further intensify their agitation. This is for the first time in the Independent India the farmers have resorted to a sustained class struggle. They would broad base the agitation by holding rallies and morchas at block and district levels. They have given the call for the boycott of JIO, boycott of Reliance malls and capture of toll plazas. By December 14, there will be a full-scale protest across the country. They have asked the people to protest against every MP and MLA of the BJP.

The sources maintain that this may finally turn into the call for social boycott of the BJP leaders across the country. Significantly even the JP movement had not witnessed this nature of protest.

The farmers are angry with the government for its move to defile the movement. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched a misinformation campaign criticizing NCP chief Sharad Pawar for his comments on the APMC when he was the agriculture minister. He also cited an interview, where the NCP chief allegedly said that the Centre would not give financial support to the states if they do not amend the APMC Act and allow entry of private players into the farm sector. “You have suggested more changes than Narendra Modi did and now you are opposing them,” he said.

Alleging that the opposition leaders have “shameful dual characters”, he had said, “Today, when their political existence is ending, they join any opposing movement to save themselves. The farmers have clearly asked political parties to stay away from the protests and the Centre respects the statement. But all of them are jumping in just because they have one more chance to oppose the BJP and Narendra Modi.”

Prasad, who is a lawyer, should have known that Pawar had simply circulated his views for wider consensus and consultation, which eventually was not implemented. But this time Modi did not bother to discuss it even with the stakeholders. He behaved in an autocratic manner. There is no denying the fact agriculture reforms are needed, private participation should be encouraged, but the fate and life of farmers must not be mortgaged to the corporate sector as is being done by Narendra Modi.

In fact Pawar is on record saying: “I had said that APMC needs some reforms. APMC Act should continue but with reforms. There is no doubt that I had written the letter. But their three Acts do not even mention APMC. They are just trying to divert the attention. No need to give importance”. And the fact is UPA government did not convert the proposal into law. The BJP has been levelling these charges ever since the protests against the new farm laws began.

The BJP accuses the opposition of politicising “the issue”. Is it that only BJP enjoys the exclusive right to politicise any issue? No other party can do that? Is it forbidden that no political party would extend support to an agitation?

Meanwhile a group of five opposition leaders Sharad Pawar, Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and DMK's TKS Elangovan have called on the President of India and requested him to “repeal agriculture laws and electricity amendment bill that were passed in an anti-democratic manner without proper discussions and consultations". "We informed the President that it is absolutely critical that these anti-farmer laws are taken back," said Rahul Gandhi.

Significantly outsourcing agricultural operations to the big corporates and legitimising contract farming amounts to a virtual abandonment of Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ project. The farmers’ agitation is unique in many ways. For one, it is a coming together of 31 ideologically competing organisations.

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Published: 10 Dec 2020, 9:00 PM