While the Narendra Modi government has decided to repeal the three agricultural reform laws, the protesters demonstrating against the legislation for nearly a year are unwilling to call off the movement just yet.
There is now a chorus building up among the farmer unions as well as opposition parties to pressurise the union government for legislation to guarantee the taxpayer-fleecing Minimum Support Price (MSP). Some from within the government support the demand to legalise MSP, as marginalised BJP MP Varun Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Modi, saying the stir should not end until the issue is resolved.
Earlier, farmer leaders had held a meeting to discuss the future course of action following Prime Minister Modi’s announcement to withdraw the agricultural reform laws.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha core committee member Darshan Pal said that farmers would go ahead with the programmes scheduled over the next few days, including a tractor march to Parliament.
“Our call of tractor march to Parliament still stands. A final decision on the future course of the agitation and MSP issue will be taken in a meeting of the SKM at Singhu Border on Sunday,” Darshan Pal said today.
The trade unionist said that agitation will continue for now. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait had made a similar statement yesterday, saying that farmers would not call off the protests until the union government formally repeals the three agricultural reform laws in the upcoming winter session of the parliament.
Other farmer leaders said the unions were discussing the developments and will participate in the SKM meeting on Sunday.
“We have decided not to leave the site till these laws are formally repealed in Parliament. Mobilisation of farmers on Delhi borders on November 26 to mark the first anniversary of the agitation will continue,” farmer leader at Tikri Border and SKM member Sudesh Goyat said.
Hundreds of protesting farmers have been camping at important stretches of Delhi’s borders in Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur since November 2020, forcing people to take detours during interstate travel.
It now appears that commuters will have to wait for some time for any reprieve on this front.
Varun Gandhi’s letter to PM Modi
The farmers also found support from BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit Varun Gandhi, who deviated from the party line to speak in favour of the protesters.
He said if the decision to repeal farm had been taken earlier, “innocent lives would not have been lost”.
“This movement will not end without the resolution of this (MSP) demand and there will be widespread anger among them, which will continue to emerge in one form or the other. Therefore, it is very important for the farmers to get the statutory guarantee of MSP for their crops,” he wrote and also demanded that Rs 1 crore compensation be given to farmers “martyred” in the movement against the agricultural reform laws.
Like Varun Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati also demanded a law to guarantee MSP and withdrawal of cases against the protesters.
The Congress and Left parties have also demanded that a law should be enacted on the MSP guarantee while repealing the three agricultural reform laws from last year.
VK Singh criticises opponents of agricultural reform
Union minister General VK Singh, however, lamented the insistence of a section of farmers on a rollback of the reform legislation. “I asked a farmer leader to tell me what is black (in the agricultural reform laws). You people say this is a black law. I asked them what is black barring the ink (used). They said we endorse your view but these (laws) are still black,” the former Army chief told reporters in Basti, Uttar Pradesh.
“What is the cure (for this)? There is no cure,” he said, expressing his exasperation.
“In farmers’ organisations, there is a fight for supremacy among themselves. These people cannot think about the benefits to small farmers,” he said.
‘Gather in large numbers on 1st anniversary of agitation’
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha today urged farmers to gather in large numbers at all protest sites on the first anniversary of the agitation against the agricultural reform laws on 26 November.
While the SKM has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision, it said that it will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures.
In a statement, the SKM, an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions, said the struggle will continue to get all demands of the protesting farmers fulfilled and all announced plans are underway.
“SKM appeals to farmers in various North Indian states to reach the different morcha sites on November 26, 2021, which marks the completion of a full one year of continuous peaceful protests at Delhi’s borders,” the statement said.