Abdul Bari Masoud dwells into the way the three agri-laws have been repealed and the concerns of the farmers.
The historic and world’s largest peaceful movement of farmers has forced the government to consign three agricultural laws to the dustbin of history. But the way it was dissolved in the Parliament has drawn strong flaks from the farmer unions and opposition parties. It is a fact that the Modi administration got the Repeal Bill enacted in the same “undemocratic and un-parliamentary” manner as the Bills that were passed in September 2020. Consequently, instead of bouquets, the government gets strong brickbats.
Reacting strongly, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which has been leading the movement, said the Government of India led by Narendra Modi sought to mislead the nation yet again in the way the Objects and Reasons for the Farm Laws Repeal Bill were articulated.
It is a matter of serious concern that when 12 Parliamentarians tried to raise a debate on the Bill and related matters, including Minimum Support Price (MSP) legal guarantee, they were “unceremoniously” suspended for the whole winter session of the Parliament.
Speaking with Radiance, SKM leader and former MP Hannan Mollah said this stifling of detailed debates in the Parliament is outright unhealthy and undemocratic.
“The continuing lack of democratic functioning within the Parliament, in addition to false statements and immoral behaviour of the Government are objectionable and unacceptable”.
Echoing the same sentiment, the All India Agricultural Workers Union denounced the “undemocratic” way in which the Bill was passed.
It is unfortunate for Indian democracy that Parliament was not allowed to discuss such an important issue which has taken the lives of more than 700 farmers, Union President A Vijayaraghavan told Radiance.
Despite demand for discussion on the issue by the opposition, the BJP Government continued its undemocratic attitude and suspended 12 Opposition members from the Upper House of the Indian Parliament.
It is also important to note that the ‘statement of object and reason’ of the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 is also highly objectionable as it has all false claims about the repealed laws.
“Despite being forced to repeal the laws by one of world’s largest peaceful movements, the Modi Government is not ready to admit its mistake and anti-farmers nature of three farm laws. This is nothing but commitment of the BJP Government for the interest of Corporates,” said Mollah, who is also a General Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, a constituent of SKM.
While doing so, the Prime Minister wants to convey a message to his corporate friends that his government is committed to their interests in principle, he added.
The statement of object and reason of the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 not only claims the historic struggle as protest by only a group of farmers is disrespect to more than 700 martyrs of the famers’ movement, but also denial of millions of protesting farmers and workers of their identity.
The government’s claim is contrary to the fact as thousands of farmers and agricultural workers from all parts of the country have been still sitting at the four protest sites at the Delhi borders, braving the vagaries of weather since November last year. The permanent morchas in dozens of places continue at Delhi borders and elsewhere, reflecting the discipline and determination that protesting farmers have.
SKM clarifies once again that vague statements here and there as a response to the pending demands of protesting farmers are not an acceptable response or assurance from the BJP government, as the farmers seek solid assurances on, and concrete redressal of, the pending demands.
Electricity Amendments Bill 2021 being Listed for Business in the ongoing Parliament Session is an outright reneging on the commitment made by the government to the delegation of farm unions that was in formal talks with the government in December 2020. Similar is the case of penalising farmers for biomass burning in relation to Delhi’s air pollution. SKM alleges that with such manifestations of unreliable behaviour, it is completely obvious why the farmers’ unions will not trust the government on any verbal utterances.
One of the six issues enumerated in the SKM’s November 21 letter to the Prime Minister was for the withdrawal of cases registered against the protesting farmers. Hundreds of frivolous and false cases have been registered against thousands of farmers, particularly in the BJP-ruled states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. It is to be noted that this is not just about Haryana cases, but cases even in states like Himachal Pradesh.
SKM has not received any reply from the government in response to its letter to the Prime Minister, wherein SKM had raised six key demands as a pre-condition for withdrawal of the farm movement.
OPPOSITION ON THE GOVT. MOVE
Lending support to the farmers unions’ demand, opposition parties also flayed the government, saying it is trying to deflect public attention from the farmers’ just and genuine demands. They said the might of three or four large crony capitalists cannot stand against the might of the Indian farmers and the Indian labourers and that has come true.
Attacking the government, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said it has lost even the pretence of democratic propriety and has started behaving like a full-fledged authoritarian dictatorship.
Addressing media persons, Gandhi said, “This is the first Government that is neither ready to heed to the MPs nor the Parliament or the people. Whenever the Congress Party-led Opposition tries to raise and debate the issues of skyrocketing inflation, record unemployment, sinking economy, misery of the farmers and labourers and the rights of Dalits, Adivasis and Minorities in the Parliament, the Government in a predetermined conspiracy itself makes the Parliament dysfunctional – the houses are simply not allowed to take up these issues and are adjourned on one pretext or the other. It is for the first time in 75 years that even journalists are not being allowed into the Press Gallery, lest they see and report these sordid machinations of the Government.”
Questioning the hurry in passing the bills, Congress leader said how the bills have been repealed without any discussion, without any conversation.
“We wanted to have a conversation about the forces behind these bills, because these bills do not just reflect the views of the Prime Minister, these bills reflect the power behind the Prime Minister, and what are the forces that are behind these three bills?”
“The Prime Minister is an instrument of these forces. The Prime Minister is the tool of these forces. These forces sit behind the Prime Minister. These forces capture the Media and they pass laws like the farm laws. They do demonetisation and they are inimical to the future of the country,” he added.
We wanted to discuss the MSP, Lakhimpur Kheri case, the 700 farmers, who died in this agitation and unfortunately, that discussion has not been allowed. This is a reflection of the fact that the government is terrified of having this discussion. The government wants to hide. The government does not have the guts to stand up for its action, alleged the Congress leader.
When being asked that the government is saying that it is fully in support of the farmers, that’s why it is repealing the laws, “Gandhi said if it is so then why did it take 700 dead Kisaans for them to repeal these laws?”
MUSLIM GROUPS’ REACTION
Muslim groups also expressed their solidarity with the protesting farmers. Hailing the repeal of farm laws as a people’s victory, they called on the government to rollback other anti-people laws like CAA and NRC.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind vice president Prof. Mohammad Salim Engineer pointed out that the repeal of the farm laws was inevitable. He said that if it had been done earlier, the farmers would not have to pay such a heavy price for fighting against those unjust laws and losses could have been avoided.
He also drew the government’s attention to other anti-people and anti-constitutional laws like the CAA and NRC, saying it goes against the basic idea of India as an inclusive, diverse, secular, and democratic nation envisaged in the Constitution. It is part of the agenda of communal polarisation and we are sure the people of India will not accept such divisive politics,” he added.
On the compensation issue which is a striking point between the government and SKM, the government seems to be not inclined to pay compensation to dead farmers as it told the Parliament that it has no record of these 700 people. Prof. Salim said the government must pay compensation as it is a just demand of the farmers’ union.
While reminding the Prime Minister that he himself admitted a mistake and apologised to the nation, Gandhi said the government should pay compensation and help the aggrieved families and it is not a big amount for the government.
CRACKS APPEARING IN BJP
Meanwhile, it is noted that BJP leaders are pressurising the UP BJP government to address farmers’ issues, as elections draw closer in the state. In a video message to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, UP MLA Romi Sahni is being heard pleading for the payment of pending arrears to sugarcane farmers.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar is reported to have said that he will invite farm leaders of the state to discuss unresolved issues with them.
Despite the repeal of the agri-laws, the stalemate between the SKM and the government is continuing. The SKM has now formed a five-member panel for carrying out dialogue with the central government on the rest of their demands.
Farmers’ leaders reiterated after the meeting held at the Singhu border, that the struggle for law on MSP, scrapping of the electricity bill, and sacking of BJP central minister Ajay Mishra Teni will continue.
Farmer leader Darshan Pal Singh said leaders of all farmers’ organisations have decided not to go back unless the cases against the farmers are withdrawn.