Strike and Agitation by Farmers Pushing Modi Regime to Backfoot
Several BJP-ruled states are witnessing a strong wave of farmers’ agitation against the anti-farmer policies of the Modi government. The 10-day-long farmers’ strike campaign from 1 to 10 June, called by the All India Kisan Mahasangh, an outfit of 130 farmers’ organisation that calls itself apolitical, is organised at village levels and is ensuring that no milk, vegetable or other commodities are supplied to the cities. There is another organisation, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, which consists of 193 organisations, including the All India Kisan Sabha of the CPI, Swaraj Abhiyan of Yogendra Yadav and Raju Shetty’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, this union is not participating in the strike, however, has not opposed it.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has described the farmers’ agitation as a hogwash and an attempt by few to come in limelight. He said that out of 12-14 crore farmers, only a few thousand are protesting. The minister earlier courted controversy by uttering similar kind of nonsense as well, including his nefarious attempt to hide the cause of farmers’ suicide by claiming that farmers are ending their lives due to impotency and failed love affairs while replying to a question in the parliament. Haryana Chief Minister, the notorious Manoharlal Khattar too said that the farmers have no issues and they are forcefully creating one. Their insensitivity toward the farmers shows their real class character – the one of a corporate and feudal lackey.
All India Kisan Mahasangh wants to highlight the plight of the farmers in India, who are now languishing due to the anti-farmer policies of subsequent governments and despite promising a lot, including the effective implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, the Modi government has taken no concrete step to help the farmers since 2014. The deliberately adopted anti-farmer policies of the Modi government has caused a hike in input cost of farming due to a steep increase in the prices of fertilisers, diesel, etc., while, at the same time, the BJP-led governments in the majority of the states have not implemented any scheme that will provide optimum MSP to the farmers for their crops or help them get rid of the mounting debt crisis. The Modi government has kept the purse string loose to provide maximum benefits to Ambani, Adani, Tata and other comprador fundraisers.
In the Union Budget 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declared that the Modi government will implement the Swaminathan Commission report and buy the produce from the farmers at 1.5 times the input costs. However, quite cunningly, his department changed the scope of input costs by including only A2+FL as the base, instead of C2, which Swaminathan Commission report called the most comprehensive cost. The farmers are already getting 1.4 times MSP on A2+FL and the government’s decision is a sheer fallacy, which will merely increase the MSP by 10 per cent only. We have discussed in details why the Modi government’s Union Budget 2018-19, which the toady Hindutva media calls a pro-farmer budget, is not so, rather is an anti-farmer budget actually.
While farmers have been agitating in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan since years, the BJP governments in these states found it not necessary to look into their agitation. The BJP governments in these states have only served the big feudal landlords, rich farmers and local usurers, who form the core of RSS’ organisational strength and fundraisers in rural India. The feudal exploitation of the marginal farmers, who also face the worst kind of caste oppression, has multiplied many times due to the policies of the BJP. The feudal landlords have even stopped paying the rightful wages to the farm labourers hired for harvesting.
The tremendous support they have got from their RSS backers empowered these rulers of rural India to laden extreme oppression on the poor and landless peasantry, whose labour goes in “repaying debts of the ancestors” as bonded labours in states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The poor farm labourers are denied access to water sources that are used by the upper-caste feudal landlords in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Forget about education or modern healthcare, the poor and landless peasantry, who forms the majority in the farming block, can’t even afford the luxury of two square meals a day and they die of sheer poverty when the prime minister boasts about his achievements on BJP advertisements.
On 6 June, the All India Kisan Mahasangh and the constituents of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti will commemorate the martyrdom of the landless peasants who were killed in Mandsaur last year, when the Madhya Pradesh Police, following the orders of the Hindutva-fascist Shivraj Singh Chauhan government, fired upon a farmers’ agitation. The spectre of Mandsaur is haunting the BJP so badly that it is intensifying communal polarisation by pushing into service the Bajrang Dal and VHP members in different parts of Madhya Pradesh, which is a poll-bound state.
The Shivraj Singh Chauhan government, which has only served big feudal landlords, big comprador capitalists and foreign corporations since 2003, is seeking another term, fourth in a row, to carry out the loot and plunder of the state. However, the farmers’ are adamant over their demands for better MSP, loan waiver, etc., which the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government is not in a mood to fulfil. Different BJP governments announce cosmetic loan waiver decisions, which, like the Uttar Pradesh farmer loan waiver declaration of the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government, happen to be fake programmes.
The BJP is visibly scared of the farmers and hence it is unwilling to call a parliamentary session to discuss the plight of the farmers because the party knows well that a section of its own MPs are disgruntled with the chaos that’s reigning in the farm sector and may ask unwanted questions. The opposition parties are raising the issue of the farmers continuously while the CPI(M)-affiliated Kisan Sabha took out a farmers’ march in Maharashtra that drew all India attention to farmers’ plight. The government is cornered at all sides and Narendra Modi has no chance to escape the anger of the farmers by simply uttering gibberish fanciful thoughts on farmers during his “Maan ki Baat” radio programme.
The 10-day-long farmers’ strike will surely force the state governments and the Union Government to the corner and the BJP will try to derail the agitation by offering different lollipops to the farmers, which will go nowhere near to meet their demands. Though many farmers’ leaders may give up and capitulate, it will be too hard for the Modi government to carry out fooling the majority of the farmers and peasants for a long period. The awakening of the farmers, with a surge of militant protests throughout the BJP strongholds, show that the Modi government’s days of dividing and weakening the farmers using the stick of religion, are over and the farmers will pull it down to the abyss of doom very soon.
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker