Farmers all set to take on Modi govt again over PM’s unkept promises

Farmers are angry that Modi govt has reneged on its promises. Anywhere else, the head of the government would have stepped down. But Modi govt is impervious to criticism, and even protests

Representative Photo (Women Farmers out in large numbers during the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Maha Rally at grain market, on February 21, 2021 in Barnala, India.)
Representative Photo (Women Farmers out in large numbers during the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Maha Rally at grain market, on February 21, 2021 in Barnala, India.)

Sushil Kutty

The last time the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) piled on the heat on the Modi government was ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, promising to relegate the BJP to second or even third place. That did not happen. Other factors set the trend for the poll outcome despite the vestiges of the farmers’ agitation blighting the vitiated political environment.

Earlier, in December 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had withdrawn the Centre’s three farm laws, and had given a written assurance that all the farmers’ demands would be met. That turned out to be a lie. And, now, the fires are back to burning.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) is angry that the Modi government has reneged on its promises. Anywhere else and the head of the government would have stepped down. But this government is impervious to criticism, and even protests.

For the Modi government, promises are the cliché to be broken. Besides, this was not the first promise laid to waste by the Modi dispensation. In any case, they are too many to list. Enough to say that the farmers are inclined to remind the Centre that it cannot make a getaway after taking the farmers for a ride.

The first edition of the farmers’ protests was lifted on December 9, 2021. The hottest part of 2022 is behind them, and Lakhimpur-Kheri remains etched in the farmers’ minds. The ‘andolanjeevi-kisan’ is inclined to breathe fresh life into the stalled farmers’ protests. The Modi government cannot be allowed to make a getaway after reneging on its “written promises”, they say.

On July 3, representatives of all the constituents of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha met in Ghaziabad. Result: The protests would be resumed without further ado, they decided.

The Modi government stands accused of not forming the promised committee on minimum support price (MSP). Two, the “false cases” lodged against the farmers haven’t been withdrawn as assured. Three, the all-important written promise of a legal guarantee on MSP is still pending.

Basically, the silver-tongued Modi government “betrayed” the farmers. Grievous is also the fact that no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave these written assurances. And it’s rare for any Prime Minister to go back on his word. But white-faced lies come easily to some politicians these days apparently, and it’s acknowledged throughout that there’s no truer politician than “our dear Prime Minister.”

The Modi government will feel the heat starting July 18 when the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will hold ‘Protest Against Betrayal’ meetings throughout the country and coinciding with the start of Parliament’s Monsoon Session. July 31, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh, will be marked by “chakka jam” on all major highways across the country.

Fact is, “betrayal” costs. And this edition of the protests will not only be about MSP and “false cases”; on the farmers’ radar will also be the contentious ‘Agnipath’ armed forces’ recruitment scheme.

Over the centuries, farmers’ children have been the mainstay of the Indian Army and farmers are convinced ‘Agnipath’ is not only anti-farmer, but it’s also anti-Army and anti-India, designed to end the hegemony of martial castes.

The farmers’ protests will be buoyed by the participation of the unemployed youth in large numbers, even if it’s only to oppose ‘Agnipath’. The SKM has billed the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme “anti-national and anti-youth, and anti-farmer.”

In Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the military has always been high on the career graph. The farmers and the youth have the Congress party’s back, and other opposition parties are expected to lend them heft. Ex-servicemen of the farmers-belt, and the unemployed youth, have started rallying behind the opposition parties to protest the ‘Agnipath’ scheme.

Both the farmers and the opposition parties must have learned their lessons from the first round of farmers’ protests. For millions of Indians, the Modi government is a “government in perpetual retreat”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot resort to the same trick twice. He will be booed out if he folds his hands once more.

(IPA Service)

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Published: 06 Jul 2022, 9:00 PM