Politics

Farmers Protests OR Political Gherao of the Capital?

Farmers Protests, New Delhi: One can see multiple layers of security barriers with concrete barricades, barbed wires, tyre-bursting spike strips, and containers and dumper trucks filled with sand on the Ghazipur, Tikri, Jharola, Chilla and Singhu Borders of Delhi, along with thousands of security personnel armed with water canons, tear gas shells and riot gear to stop the protesting farmers from entering the capital. 

A little more than two years after they ended the massive protests, the farmers are back at it.

But what is this protest all about, and how is it different from the farmers’ protest in 2020-21?

 

Farmers Protests: Who and Why?

The protests are being led by two groups, Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), which claims to have the support of 100 Kisan unions and Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political), which claims to have the support of 150 unions. Punjab has become the epicentre and the coordination point for these protests.

The two groups gave a call to Delhi Chalo in December 2023 end to remind PM Modi of the promises made two years ago.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) is a breakaway faction of the original SKM that originally orchestrated the farmer’s protest in 2020-21 with the support of 500+ unions from all over India.

SKM’s coordinator, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, who is president of Punjab-based Bhartiya Kisan Union(BKU) Sidhupur farm union that broke away from the SKM following differences of opinion with the leadership.

KMM, the second group in protests, was formed by Sarwan Singh Pandher, convener of the Punjab-based Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC).

KMSC did not participate in the main protests against farm laws in 2020-21 and had set up a separate stage on the Delhi border at Kundli.

After the protests, KMSC expanded its support base and formed the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha with the backing of more than 100 farmers’ unions.

The original SKM (political) group is not part of the ongoing protests and gave its call for Grameen Bharat Bandh on 16th February. It has also issued a statement saying there should be no suppression of farmers, and if the government goes overboard, they might join the protests as well.

 

What Are The Demands of The Farmers?

  • A law to guarantee Minimum Support Price MSP for all crops
  • Implement the Swaminathan Commission report’s recommendations.
  • Full loan/debt waiver and pensions for farmers and farm labourers.
  • India’s withdrawal from the World Trade Organisation and freeze all free trade agreements.
  • Implement the Land Acquisition Act 2013, with provisions for written consent of farmers before acquisition and compensation at four times the collector rate.
  • Scrap Electricity Amendment Bill 2020.
  • 200 days of employment per year under the MGNREGA scheme and daily wages of 700.

 

Three union ministers, Arjun Munda (Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare), Piyush Goyal (Commerce & Industry minister), and Nityanand Rai (Minister of State for Home), met the representatives of the groups in Chandigarh on Monday, and talks are still ongoing to resolve the issue. The centre is going in with an open mind; as per Arjun Munda, the farmers should come forward to talk with the government, and an MSP Law cannot be brought in haste.

 

Politicisation of Protests

As per many political experts and observers, this is a move by left parties to show the government in a bad light, weak and insensitive to the demands of the largest community in India, i.e. Farmers: the annadata. Suppose the government bends before these unreasonable demands. In that case, it will appear weak, while if it takes action on the protesters, it will appear insensitive at a crucial time, i.e. The General Elections.

Additionally, questions have arisen on the credibility of these protesters, who have enough money to modify tractors and carry months of rations with the aim to sit on the borders of Delhi and choke the capital, which is going to harm the nation’s economy by hampering the movement of people and goods.

Read more: The Prospects of Renewable Energy in India

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