By R.K. Sinha
The farmers in two and a half states of India, who decided to continue their agitation till the annulment of the three stringent agricultural laws, are now feeling overwhelmed with disappointment and exhaustion. The presence of farmers has also plummeted at the sites of protest. Despite their best efforts, the leaders of the farmers of Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh were utterly unsuccessful in giving their movement a pan-India classification even for a day.
With the exception of a few districts of Uttar Pradesh, these protests have not received the support of all the farmers of the state. Within the wide selection of 75 districts, the farmers of a mere total of four to five districts sought active participation. Due to this reason, these protests have to be characterized as the movement of the states. The farmers’ rally in Maharashtra and Gujarat is also extremely powerful. However, their movements are not linked to the other protests led by the two and a half states.
At present, there aren’t any ongoing negotiations or verbal discourse between the farmers and the government. The leaders of the farmers’ uprising are solely responsible for this outcome. After January 21, 2021, the avenues of communication between the protestors and the government were terminated. This situation in itself is a matter of grave concern.
The farmers are demanding the government to take back the three newly-introduced farmers’ laws. Only then, the doors of discussion shall be reopened. In case their demands aren’t met, the protests will continue. Our government, however, has refuted these demands, terming them unacceptable. The government is imploring the farmers to bring forward their concerns and problems associated with these laws.
The protesters are not ready to answer this question of the government. Is further clarification necessary, that the people associated with the farmers’ protest are based on their pride and dogma?
Let us first talk about the farmers of Punjab. The underground water level in Punjab has severely deteriorated. As the situation worsens, the careless farmers are not deterred towards making some other changes apart from cultivating paddy and wheat in the state. Substantial amounts of water are prerequisites for the cultivation of both these crops. But they are not ready to listen and pay heed.
They know that they will get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on their crops. They also get electricity and water free of cost, and fertilizers are also available at subsidized rates. The farmers of Punjab also put a lot of pesticides on their crops. Consequently, those who consume the grains produced by them are suffering from incurable diseases like cancer.
The land is turning barren because a section of bigshot farmers do not understand that the land is being destroyed in their state. Despite all this, they are not even ashamed to damage the health of others by burning straws. Who is to reason with them? Despite their interests being protected by the new laws, the laws are being defied as they have the aid and protection of anti-national forces.
It has become crystal clear that this alleged movement of farmers is going on on the basis of money only because of some leftist forces, anti-national NGOs, supporters of Khalistan, etc. These same people have taken to the streets to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). Only their faces change. They sit and block roads and highways, disregarding
the inconvenience caused to the common people due to their protest. This country witnessed this situation in Shaheen Bagh.
Now let’s talk about the farmers of Haryana. The Jats of the state are mainly associated with this. The reason for their displeasure with the Modi government is entirely off course. They are angry because the BJP government came to power in the state of Haryana without their support for two consecutive terms.
The first time with an absolute majority, and the second time BJP got a few seats less than the absolute majority. These farmers feel that the BJP has stripped them of their power. They have been marginalized in the world of politics. That is why they had also created a huge ruckus on the demand for reservations for Jats in the state.
Back in 2014, when Manohar Lal Khattar came to power for the first time, in the guise of giving reservations to Jats, violence took place in the state, and destruction of government property occurred. If we talk about the farmers of western Uttar Pradesh, they were not a part of this movement initially. They are mainly sugarcane farmers whose produce is purchased by sugar mills. Sometimes, the sugar mills delay in giving them the price of sugarcane.
Rakesh Tikait became a part of this movement to establish his footing in the world of politics. Now the farmers are abandoning the rally due to its prolongation. After all, there is a limit to any protest. In reality, the farmer leaders are unable to pinpoint and call out the shortcomings of the agricultural laws.
Will the prospect that the farmers can sell their products anywhere in the country to any person or organization at their own cost in any manner be detrimental to their functioning or profit-making endeavors? The government will continue to procure paddy-wheat from the farmers as before and similarly extend the benefit of MSP. Now farmers can sell their produce without any hindrance in the local market and outside it.
A remarkable feat worth mentioning is the fears that crept up after the announcement of economic reforms pertaining to the potential destruction of the service sector have been laid to rest. Today, after three decades of struggles, there has been tremendous growth in the service sector; around 20 percent of India’s population works in the service sector.
See the farmers’ protests are going on at Tikri, Singhu border, and Ghazipur border. On the contrary, the farmers of the capital or the farmers around these borders are absent from this movement. They are instead working diligently in their fields. Why don’t the farmer leaders bring forth the reason behind this? Everyone has the right to conduct
non-violent agitation in a democracy, including farmers. But this time, some mysteriously dubious powers have become a part of the protest in the name of farmers.
(The writer is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)