Herald View: Modi govt’s apathy towards farmers’ plight continues
On October 2, more than 70,000 farmers from UP were met with force to prevent them from marching into Delhi. Nothing could be more shameful for the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri
Mahatma Gandhi had warned that no government, no matter how strong it is, would be able to check disgruntled farmers should they decide to hit the streets. Gandhi’s words became prophetic when on October 2, his birthday, more than 70,000 farmers from Uttar Pradesh were met with force to prevent them from marching into the country’s capital. October 2, incidentally, was also birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who coined the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. While the police, on orders from the Centre, brutally came down on farmers demanding farm loan waivers, a farmer in Haryana’s Bhiwani district committed suicide over his inability to pay back his loan.
Nothing could be more shameful for the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. And this was not an isolated farmer’s march. The memories of the March rally where farmers walked for 200 km to the Maharashtra Assembly in Mumbai are still fresh in public memory. So are the instances of police high-handedness in countering farmers’ protests in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, Dahod and Bhavnagar in Gujarat, Chomu and Sriganganagar in Rajasthan. Interestingly, all these states have BJP-led governments. One also cannot forget that the Prime Minister of India refused to meet farmers from Tamil Nadu who camped in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for two months last year. In such a backdrop, the country seeks answers to a few questions from the government it elected to serve the people.
Isn’t it correct that in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the Modi govt collected ₹19,000 crore in the form of Farmers’ Welfare Tax which was used for premium payment for crop insurance to insurance companies
Narendra Modi had promised in 2014 to help farmers get 50% more on the top of the MSP. What happened to that promise? An RBI report has said that the Modi government forgave debt worth ₹3,17,000 crore of select corporates between April 2014 and April 2018.
What has the government done about farmers’ debt? No other government since 1947 history had imposed tax on farming till Prime Minister Modi came to power. At present, the farmers are forced to pay a GST of 5% on fertilisers, 12% on tractors and other farm machinery.
Why are cost of fertilisers rising unchecked? DAP fertiliser used to cost ₹1,125 per 50 kg bag in 2014, compared to ₹1400 today.
When will the Modi government give loan relief to sugarcane farmers? Out of the ₹16,600 crore that the government had promised to sugarcane farmers, ₹10,622 crore worth of debt was from UP alone.
Isn’t it correct that in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the Modi govt collected ₹19,000 crore in the form of Farmers’ Welfare Tax which was used for premium payment for crop insurance to insurance companies?
Isn’t it correct that in the two years under the scheme, farmers received only ₹5,650 crore as compensation while the insurance companies earned a profit of ₹14,828 crore?
The government needs to answer. The nation wants to know.