Farmers’ agitation gets politicised, NDA govt tries to wriggle out of crisis using various tactics

The BJP leadership has been trying its best to convince the farmer community of the ‘benefits’ of the new farm laws implemented by the Union government

(Photo by Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Photo by Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Bipin Bhardwaj

The farmers’ agitation against the new farm laws got has got politicised with leaders of various political parties jumping into the ‘fight to finish’ protest being held by the peasants against the Union government.

While the Chief Minister of Punjab, state heads of different political parties, Members of Parliament and leaders of various farmer unions have come out in support of the farmers, there are some veteran BJP leaders and farmer leaders from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Uttrakhand who are supporting the BJP-led NDA government for the farm ‘reforms’ to ‘release farmers from the clutches of commission agents in the mandi system’.

Giving a political colour to the agitation, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) on Monday held a protest dharna in Amritsar. SAD president and former deputy chief minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal along with other party leaders and workers staged the dharna in support of the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders for the past 19 days. SAD had snapped its ties with the BJP on the issue of the farm bills to allay the fears of farmers, its core vote bank in Punjab.

Punjab Congress also held a massive protest backing the farmers at Shambhu border on the GT Road near Ambala in Haryana today. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar along with some Punjab Cabinet ministers, party leaders and workers reached the spot and staged a dharna to extend support to the protesting farmers.

Punjab Congress has been mobilizing famers since June 2020 to fight for their rights. “The Punjab Congress is with the farmers and staged a dharna at Shambhu barrier on the Haryana border to express its support to their cause,” said Jakhar.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also observing a hunger strike today in solidarity with the farmers, urged people to join the cause. Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said, "Fasting is good for health. Please fast to support our farmer brothers irrespective of wherever you are located. Pray for the success of their movement. They'll definitely emerge victorious in the end."

Earlier, Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh had accused Arvind Kejriwal of exploiting the ongoing farmers’ agitation and using blatant lies and brazenly false propaganda for the benefit of his party’s electoral agenda in Punjab. Kejriwal’s Delhi government had also notified one of the farm laws on November 23, at a time when farmers were preparing to march to Delhi to protest these very farm laws, Capt. Amarinder Singh pointed out.

Meanwhile, the BJP leadership has been trying its best to convince the farmer community of the ‘benefits’ of the new farm laws implemented by the Union government.

Former Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister Shanta Kumar alleged that the commission agents (arhtiyas) and political parties were trying to influence Punjab farmers for their vested interests. Punjab was funding the agitation and providing money and other assistance to the agitating farmers, he alleged. Arhtiyas from Punjab have been receiving over Rs 5,000 crore as commission in Punjab every year; after implementation of these laws, these middlemen would lose this amount, so they were instigating the farmers, he said.

He added that the FCI had failed to manage the storage of food grain not only in Punjab but also in other parts of the country, with thousands of tonnes of food grain rotting in its godowns.

Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Kumar Sharma on Monday accused the opposition of indulging in ‘hollow politics’. He said that the Congress and the SAD have been misleading innocent famers on the agriculture ‘reforms’ carried out by the BJP-led Union government.

Som Parkash, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, has said that the farmers should end their agitation and accept the Centre's proposals as most of their demands were being met.

Senior BJP leaders from Punjab - Surjit Jiyani and Harjit Singh Grewal - who are working as mediators between the government and the protestors, have made it clear that the government was not going to repeal the laws at any cost but it is ready for amendments.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to rope-in various leaders of ‘sleeping’ farmers’ unions to back the laws with an intention to create a split among the farmers and dilute their agitation.

A delegation of farmers from Uttarakhand met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar in New Delhi on Sunday and extended their support to the newly enacted three farm laws. Tomar thanked the farmers for supporting the laws. Talking to media persons, he said, “Farmers have understood the laws, expressed their views, and supported it.”

Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Kailash Choudhary and Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey were also present at the meeting. Earlier, two delegations of farmers from Haryana, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) leader Guni Prakash, met Tomar and extended their support to the new farm laws. The delegation also submitted a letter supporting the farm laws to Tomar, and said the government should continue with these legislations. They also threatened to start protests if the farm laws are repealed. They said that the ongoing farmers' agitation is no longer a peasant movement.

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