Farmers should float their own political party and contest polls: Devinder Sharma
No matter what PM or his supporters say, the retreat is an outcome of the fear of not doing well in the upcoming assembly polls in India’s most politically crucial state- Uttar Pradesh, said Sharma
Distinguished agriculture policy analyst Devinder Sharma who is credited for providing a strong ideological support to farmers’ protest feels, farmers should float their own political party and contest elections.
Talking to National Herald a day after PM Modi announced repealing of the three farm laws, Sharma who relentlessly defended the farm protest, asserted that farmers have always been ignored by the political class since independence.
“This is the first time when farmers’ perseverance forced the ruling party to take them seriously…to repeal laws passed by Parliament. Why should farmers who constitute almost 70 per cent of the total population be dependent on any political party ?” argued Sharma.
“It is an appropriate time for formers to float their own political party and contest 2024 Lok Sabha.They have three years to build the party,” added Sharma.
Saying that “if farmers can sustain a movement for a year, they can build a nationwide political party also”, Sharma added, “Barring a few political parties, the entire political system is funded by big corporates. Why would they make legislation in the interest of the farmers?”
Referring to Jan Sangh – BJP’s predecessor which won only two Lok Sabha seats in the 1950s, Sharma pointed out, “There are 65 crore farmers-families in the country. It will take time but, if they float a party, it will certainly start a naya daur (new era) of the peasantry politics in the country.”
When asked how the announcement to repeal the three farm laws is going to affect the politics in northern India, Sharma who started his career as a journalist replied, “BJP claimed ‘reforms’ were in the interest of the nation then why did they withdraw them? The answer lies in the forthcoming assembly polls in five states. BJP felt its future is at stake in India’s most politically crucial state- Uttar Pradesh. Punjab has never been their focus as a section of media and RSS/BJP supporters claim.”
Sharma, who is a staunch advocate of making MSP a legal right said that “the real reform in the agriculture sector will not happen until MSP is made a legal right for the farmers”.
“Only six per cent of the farmers get MSP. 94 per cent of them even do not know about the MSP. Though the government announce MSP for 23 crops, it is given for only two – rice and wheat,” said Sharma, adding, “As long as MSP is not made a legal right for the farmers, there will be no end to agrarian distress.”
Explaining how agriculture reforms in developed countries such as the US and Canada have turned out to be untrue, Shamra said that “open markets in agriculture have been operative for many decades in these countries” but “in the US, farmers are at present faced with a bankruptcy of $425 billion. This is at a time when the suicide rate in rural areas is 45% higher than in urban areas. Notably, only 1.5 percent of the total population is engaged in farming-sector in the US.”
Similarly in Canada, Sharma said that despite all reforms, farmers are facing severe crisis.
“At present, farmers in Canada are faced with a bankruptcy of $200 billion while the number of the farmers has come down to 1.7 percent of the total population,” underscored Sharma.
Debunking the argument in favor of reforms, Sharma said, “In the US, the average landholding is more than 400 acres while in India, the average land holding size is 1.1 hectare and 86% farmers have landholdings of less than 5 acres. If the open market model of agriculture has not worked for bigger landholdings in America and Canada; how it will work for small landholdings in India.”
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