Farm Laws: BKU's hometown Muzaffarnagar shifts focus to MSP
Many feel that by repealing the laws, the government has not done any favour to farmers as the main problems still remain to be addressed
With the promise of repeal of contentious farm bills secured, farmers in the UP's Muzaffarnagar have now trained their sights on a law for the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of repealing the three farm laws has sent farmers in celebration in the western Uttar Pradesh town, which is also the headquarters of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
BKU's president Naresh Tikait and his brother and union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait live in Sisauli village of Muzaffarnagar.
Magaram Balyan, a local BKU member, said the government announced the withdrawal of the laws due to pressure from farmers.
He claimed the announcement is an attempt to appease voters before the polls.
"These laws alone won't help the farmers. The government must now provide legal guarantee for MSP for crops, ensure availability of fertilisers, and resolve other matters critical to farming," Balyan said.
He also said the protests are now firmly united in their opposition to the BJP.
The claim was not found wanting of evidence as farmers in the region have been seen to have banned entry of the BJP leaders in their villages.
"Except for their voluntary visits during deaths and condolence prayer meetings, BJP leaders have been banned from entering villages for over a year now," Balyan added.
Opposition Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) said the decision to repeal the laws is a big deal as it shows the BJP "bowing down" to outside the party, which has rarely happened since 2014.
The RLD also said by repealing the laws, the government has not done any favour to farmers as the main problems still remain to be addressed.
"Prime Minister Modi has announced rollback of laws which were not accepted by the farmers from day one. He has just removed the burden off farmers which his government wanted to force on the community," RLD spokesperson Sandeep Chaudhary told PTI.
"The real benefit to farmers would be if the government addresses concerns related to MSP, and delivers on the BJP's promise of doubling farmers' income," Chaudhary said.
The PM's announcement on Friday broke the year-long deadlock between government and farmers, which began last November with massive protests at several of Delhi's borders.
Nevertheless, BJP supporters in Muzaffarnagar felt the government should not have given up on the protestors, who may now want to come up with more demands.
"The government should not have done this (repealing farm laws). These union-wale' won't end the protest and will keep on adding demands and blackmail the government," Sunil Kaji, a resident of Satheri in Khatauli area, told PTI.
All the same, he said the announcement will add to the BJP's credibility in the region and may work in its favour in next assembly elections in 2022, and even the general elections in 2024.
Amit Kumar, who lives in Soram and is writing a book on Jat history, said though the decision has been welcomed by people in his region, it has come a bit late.
"Over 700 lives have been lost during the protest. The political atmosphere indicates that BJP's poll prospects will be dented," Kumar, who claimed no affiliation with any farmers union or political party, said.
The historic village of Soram is also the headquarters of the influential Sarv Khap.
Hundreds of farmers, chiefly from Punjab, Haryana and UP, have been encamped at Delhi's borders since November 26 last year with a demand that the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act be repealed.
The farmers also demand a legal guarantee for MSP, among other concerns.
In his address to the nation on Friday, Prime Modi said the three agri laws will be repealed and the constitutional process required to do so will be completed in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning later this month.
Modi insisted the laws were in the benefit of farmers and apologised to people of the country saying the government could not convince a section of farmers despite its good intentions.