Opposition lines up with the agitators
With the Narendra Modi led Government losing grip, the 13-day long Delhi blockade by farmers has now culminated into a Bharat Bandh on December 8, supported by major political parties. Though the BJP-led Central Government is scheduled to talk with the farmers on December 9 – after its sixth meeting with farmers in the past 13 days – still there is no solution. Now all the major political parties such as the Congress, the Left, National Congress Party (NCP), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are with the agitating farmers’ unions which are also infiltrated by all shades and hues of anti-BJP forces. Though not participating in the protests, Sangh Parivar outfits like Bharatiya Kisan Sangh are also agreeing to most of the demands of agitating farmers.
Bill rushed, inadequate communication
How did the Modi Government fail to tackle this crisis? The answer lies in a failure to communicate. It did not explain the benefits of the three new farm bills and the way the government went about passing these bills has created this opposition. These bills, well-intended, give freedom to the farmers to sell their products to whom they wish, thus taking out the control of mandatory selling at the local markets, which are controlled by local middlemen and the local political outfits. But the way in which the government rushed it created doubts in the minds of many people that these bills are intended to help the corporate companies wishing to enter the agro retail sector. These bills which are supposed to bring liberalization in the archaic agro marketing field should have been created after a lot of deliberations and taking the farming community along. But the government brought out these bills as an Ordinance during the COVID Lockdown period in June and rushed it to the Parliament and got it passed in a controversial way without sending to Parliament’s Standing Committee, which is where threadbare debates happen.
Within weeks of passing the Bills in the Parliament, in September, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail got around Rs.48,000 crores investment by selling its 10% shares to many foreign firms. Many Corporate firms are entering the agro-marketing sector and many farmers’ unions accuse that after some time the price will be dictated by these companies. Despite government assurances that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism will prevail, farmers’ unions point out that these bills are not ensuring MSP at all.
Find a way
Many people feel that Modi Government must shed its tough attitude and settle the farmers’ strike as early as possible. The government can amend the bills by adding provisions that sales below MSP are punishable. The government should not allow the farmers’ strike to aggravate further. Time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take initiatives to end this chaos and make peace with the agitating farmers.
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