Agitation to continue till farm laws are formally repealed.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Saturday decided to go ahead with the pre-decided programmes of the farmers’ agitation till November 29. It includes the Lucknow mahapanchayat on November 22, observing the anniversary of the agitation on November 26 and the tractor march to the Parliament on the first day of the Winter Session.
Analysis | Farms laws repeal decision seen as fallout of farmer protests in poll-bound U.P., Punjab
“Till the laws are repealed in Parliament, all the pre-decided programmes of SKM will continue. There will be a condolence meeting on November 29, after that we will decide our future course,” said Dharmendra Malik, media in-charge of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), who attended the nine-member core committee meeting at the Singhu border.
Meanwhile, BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, who reached the Ghazipur border on Saturday said the farmers were yet to process the “extra sweetness” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on Friday. “He continues to divide farmers between big and small. He insists on addressing us as kuchh kisan (a small number of farmers),” Mr. Tikait said.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s attempt to directly address the farmers, he said, “A television address will not do. In a democracy, one-sided decisions are not made. There are cases against farmers because of the agitation against the black laws. They should be taken back. The government has to talk to farmers across the table. Our demand for guaranteed MSP has still not been met. From the impending seed law to the electricity amendment bill, there are several contentious issues that are still pending.”
On its part, the SKM is expected to send a proposal to the government on Sunday.
Repeal of farm laws | Reactions
On the relevance of the Lucknow rally, Mr Tikait said farmers retain the right to hold mahapanchayats.
“The Lakhimpur probe is not on the right track as the Union Minister who was allegedly part of the conspiracy has not been questioned. The increase in the State Advised Price of sugarcane is not as per our expectations. It is still lower than in Haryana and Punjab. I don’t think we will be stopped but if the government does it, it will do it at its own peril,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the BKU said they were surprised that the Prime Miniter chose to repeal the laws instead of promising a law on the MSP.
In western U.P., the demand for the elusive statutory MSP guarantee has found much more political resonance than the three farm laws, which were in suspended animation. In fact, BJP leaders who had to do the explaining in villages would crib that promulgation of farm laws has given life to an old demand that no government would like to fulfil.
“No wonder, the Prime Minister chose to repeal the farm laws as giving guaranteed MSP would have hurt the corporate friends more,” said a BKU source, laughing at the way farmers had tied up the BJP in knots on the issue.
In fact, a few weeks back, the talk in the BKU circles was that before the U.P. Assembly election, the State government would increase the SAP of sugarcane and the Central government would accept the demand for an MSP law.
“We told the RSS functionaries and top officials who approached us that we understand the compulsions of the government in revoking the farm laws as it would spiral demands for the repeal of Citizenship Amendment Act and reading down of Article 370. We don’t want to put the PM in a spot. Amendments in the farm laws and the MSP law would have resolved the logjam. It seems the decision [to repeal the laws] was spurred by some internal tussle in the BJP and/ or the party wants to use the issue to create a Hindu-Muslim divide,” said a senior BKU leader, requesting anonymity, referring to Muslim voices on the repeal of CAA.
Observers say the ruling party was threatened by the increasing social cohesion under the farmer umbrella and it would have affected BJP’s vote banks in the caste-ridden U.P.
Interestingly, while the RSS-affiliate Bhartiya Kisan Sangh denies the threat of increased social bonding, its leaders in western U.P. admit the real issue in the region was the statutory MSP guarantee.
get 20% above the cost incurred which should be corrected as per inflation,” said a BKS leader from Muzaffarnagar.
During the farmers’ agitation against the contentious farm laws, Mr Tikait carefully cultivated the demand for MSP to make his supporters join the farmers from Haryana and Punjab who were more affected by the farm laws. Invoking his father Mahendra Singh Tikait’s formula, he would say the cost of three quintals of wheat should be equal to ten grams of gold.
“In 1967, when the government fixed the MSP of wheat at ₹76 per quintal the rate of gold was ₹200 per tola. A farmer could buy 10 grams of gold by selling three quintals of wheat. At that time the monthly salary of a primary teacher was ₹70. Today, the price of gold is above ₹40,000 per tola and the MSP of wheat is ₹1,975 per quintal.”
It is this earthy approach that planted the idea of guaranteed MSP in farmers’ minds, and now with the “black laws” being repealed, they feel that MSP law is also an achievable target.
“In our region, there is a proverb that when an opponent falls during a battle, he gets two extra kicks,” said a BKU leader, explaining the farmers’ decision to stay put. “Now you will even higher attendance at the Lucknow mahapanchayat,” said Rajveer Singh, BKU state vice-president.
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