No talks to heaping insults, Modi govt’s apathy towards protesting farmers’ plight is out in open
New Delhi, June 4: On Monday, the 10-day-long nationwide farmers' protest entered its fourth day. But it seems the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) instead of supporting the genuine demands of the farmers--thousands of whom have committed suicide in the last few years-- is busy making insensitive and provocative remarks against the protesters.
Some of the remarks made by BJP's top leaders --like the protest is an "unnecessary" exercise to farmers' trying to "attract media attention" by their revolt--showcase how much the ruling regime is detached from the ground realities.
Union minister of agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh on Saturday stoked controversy by calling the farmers' protest "an exercise to get media attention". His comment has been dubbed as "insensitive" and opposition parties have demanded his removal.
Singh said the farmers opted for "unusual deeds" to draw media attention as they belong to organisations with only a few thousand members. The farmers too protested against Singh's remark. On Monday, protesters spilled milk on roads against the Union minister's insensitive comment in Nagpur, Maharashtra. What is heartening is that the protesting farmers in Nagpur also distributed milk to locals who came up with vessels requesting for it.
Shakeel Ahmed of the Congress condemned Singh's comment as "insensitive" and tweeted: "When our farmers are committing suicide, this statement is really cruel." Last year, the government told the Supreme Court that over 12,000 suicides of farmers were reported every year since 2013.
Singh's Madhya Pradesh counterpart Balakrishna Patidar was quoted as saying: "No farmers are participating in the strike. Farmers are happy with the schemes of the chief minister."
The farmers have launched the agitation to press their demands, including loan waiver and right price for crops. They dumped vegetables, milk and other farm produce on roads and blocked supplies to cities in several states in the last few days.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar dubbed the farmers' protest as "unnecessary" on Saturday. "They don't have any issues. They are just focusing on unnecessary things. They are not selling produce and this will bring losses to them," the CM had said.
Due to the ongoing farmers' protest, several parts of the country are witnessing steep hike in prices of farm and dairy produce. There is also a shortage of food items in several cities as the farmers have stopped their supply to the market.
In spite of the continuing strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to make a statement or overture to the protesters to reassure them that the government is with the farmers.
The farmers' agitation in seven states--Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh--has been spearheaded by the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM)--a conglomeration of 130 farmers' organisations across the country.
The RKM has stated that the protest will be peaceful and the protesters won't block roads, but farmers will stage dharnas on at least 30 highways in the country. The farmers' agitation continued on Monday and likely to proceed in the coming days as the ruling Modi government at the Centre seems to be in no mood to talk to the protesters and come to a settlement.
The whole protest has taken a political colour now, as the ruling BJP and the Congress accused each other of being responsible for the farm crisis in the country. In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh last week, Union home minister Rajnath Singh alleged that the farmers' agitation was an agitation of the Congress.
"The BJP government in the state is working for the welfare of farmers and it has taken several big decisions in their interest," he added. Denying the allegations, newly appointed Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath said it's surprising that those who ordered firing at the farmers are now trying to shift the blame for violence on our party.
Last year, a farmers' protest in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh turned violent which led to the killing of seven farmers by the police. The farmers were protesting to demand better prices for their crops and loan waiver. The 10-day-long ongoing farmers' agitation has been hosted to mark the first anniversary of killing of farmers in Mandsaur on June 6 last year. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to address a rally in Mandsaur on the day.
Since the last year, the Modi government is facing the ire of farmers because of what they called the "anti-farmer policies" of the current regime at the Centre. A few months ago, around 4,000 farmers walked 180 kms from Nashik to Mumbai to meet CM Devendra Fadnavis. They presented a list of demands to the CM. The CM has agreed to meet their demands.
It is hard to believe that it is the same Modi government which tried its best to woo farmers in the last annual Budget in February this year. But now when farmers are protesting, either Modi's cabinet colleagues are insulting them or the PM himself is maintaining his "stoic silence".