New Delhi: Farmers have come to Delhi for a ‘decisive battle’ against the new agri-marketing laws. Their peaceful sit-ins continued for the fifth day at the Singhu and Tikri borders of the national capital while the number of protestors swelled at the Ghazipur border. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, defended the new legislation and accused the opposition of playing tricks on farmers through misinformation campaigns.
Thousands of agitating farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, started their march to gherao the country’s Parliament but were stopped on the border areas. The farmers have now vowed to seal all the five entry points of entering into Delhi, stating that they have enough ration for 4 months to continue their sit-in and will not leave the national capital till their demands are met.
The farmers have already closed the Singhu and Tikari borders, while their numbers are swelling on the border connecting Ghaziabad and Delhi, thereby, closing it partially. Apart from this, their preparations are underway to close Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Agra highways. In the coming days, if you are planning to visit places through these highways, then you should postpone your plan.
The Centre has, however, assured the farmers that it is ready to negotiate with them unconditionally, and invited them for talks. The farmers have vowed that they will not allow any political party to use their platform to capitalise on it. Meanwhile, the way their agitation is progressing has given ample indication that some anti-national elements and foreign forces have already made their entry in this movement.
The negative propaganda does not end here. The other two demands including that the MSP should not be abolished along with government Mandis are the basis of this whole agitation. The truth, however, is that the government neither wants to abolish the MSP nor it has included any provision to abolish Mandis in the new agricultural laws. The truth can be understood in two points.
1. The government delivers food grains to poor people for free or at a very cheap rate through government ration shops under Public Distribution System (PDS). It is the world’s largest public distribution system. For this, the government purchases food grains directly from farmers offering them Minimum Support Price (MSP). Around 80 crore people in India were given food grains under the PDS during the coronavirus lockdown. The government tries to store food grains for at least 6 months for the PDS. Since the government buys the food grains on the basis of MSP, there is no question of ending this system.
The government is duty-bound to provide free food grains to people living below the poverty line as the Right to Food is applicable in India. This is another big reason that the government has to buy food grains from farmers.
2. The government has already made this statement in Parliament that it has no plans to abolish the MSP. No government can backtrack from what it said or promise in the House. If this happens, the government can be challenged in a court of law, and it may also fall.
The agitating farmers as well people should also think that when they have no problem with the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) fixed by industrialists then why are they worried over the MSP fixed by the government.
Notably, 38 percent of the current MPs in the Lok Sabha are farmers. Still, the farmers took to the streets to protest against new agriculture laws, while these leaders are sitting comfortably in their bungalows watching the pictures of agitating farmers on their TV sets.