Pro-reform leader Anil Ghanwat’s threat of agitation, making SC committee report public puts Modi govt in fix

Anil Ghanwat, a member of Supreme Court-appointed committee to look into the contentious farm laws, has written to PM Modi, ‘Your (Modi) govt failed to deliver any economic reforms for farmers’

Farmers protesting at Delhi’s Singhu border (Representative Image)
Farmers protesting at Delhi’s Singhu border (Representative Image)

NH Political Bureau

The Modi govt’s decision to repeal the farm laws in a bid to cool down anti-BJP temper in poll-bound states seems to have fallen flat. Despite the PM’s apology and the BJP’s best efforts to woo the farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, the saffron party has so far failed to win over the peasantry class, feel observers.

Adding to its woes, Swatantra Bharat Party (SBP) leader Anil Ghanwat has warned the Modi government of a farmers’ protest in Delhi over a ban imposed on genetically modified (GM) crops recently.

In a letter addressed to the PM on January 17, Ghanwat has also expressed displeasure “on behalf of 78 crores farmers and their families over the repeal of farm laws”.

“Ghanwat’s letter has created a Catch-22 situation for the Modi government. The Central government has repealed farm laws in a bid to mollify farmers ahead of assembly polls. Now the pro-reform lobby is pushing for lifting the ban from GM crops. This may prove another blow (if they do so) to the BJP in the time of polls,” said a UP watcher.

Ghanwat, who was one of the members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee to look into the contentious farms laws, wrote, “Your (Modi) government failed to deliver any economic reforms for farmers.”

“You failed to explain the benefits of the 2020 farm laws to the people and then you unilaterally repealed them without consulting anyone…Such arbitrary actions amount to a confiscation of property rights and create uncertainty for farmers and investors,” added Ghanwat in his letter.

It is worth noting here that Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella body of farmers' unions and opposition parties – had severely criticized the Modi government for not consulting stakeholders before enacting farm laws.

Asking the government to lift the moratorium on GM crops, Ghanwat said that if this was not done by February 16, he will launch ‘Feed India movement’ on February 17.

“If necessary, I may bring farmers to bring Delhi to demonstrate support for reforms,” he wrote in his letter.

Ghanwat has also demanded the release of the report submitted to the Supreme Court.

“If the Supreme Court does not release the report, then I will make it public at an appropriate time to inform policymakers and farmers, particularly since the overwhelming majority of the submissions the Supreme Court Committee received were supportive of now repealed farm laws,” he said.

Questioning Ghanwat’s locus standi, noted social activist and convenor of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) Kavitha Kuruganti said, “Who thinks that he represents farmers in this country?”

Talking to NH over the phone, Kavita came down heavily on Ghanwat, saying, “He and Shetkari Sangthan as far as we can see are not a farmers’ body at all. They are an industry lobby in many ways. They speak for the large farmers of the country; they don’t represent the poor and marginal farmers.”

“Nothing is surprising. The laws have been repealed. The farmers who were protesting have already won on that front. Whether he puts out the (SC committee) report or not is irrelevant in the present context. He does not make any material difference as far as a victory of the protesting farmers is concerned,” opined Kavitha.

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