Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders to meet on November 27 to determine next phase of agitation

Farmers from Patiala seen at Singhu Border, in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

As they mark one year of protests on Delhi’s borders, farm unions are united in celebrating the Government’s concession to their demand to repeal the three farm reform laws. However, leaders from different States and political philosophies have varying ideas on the next steps forward and what it would take to satisfy their demand for a legal guarantee of minimum support prices (MSP) for their crops. A meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s core committee will be held on November 27 to determine the future course of action.

The three protest sites surrounding Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur were thronged with farmers determined to flaunt their “historic victory” in convincing the Government to accede to their headline demand.

“It is a monumental achievement that after 12 months, the farmers have forced this obstinate Prime Minister to blink, and to bend down. Few other struggles can claim such a victory,” said All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah.

Many farmers and leaders from Punjab, especially those without political affiliations outside the State, seem hopeful that the victory means they can go home after the year-long agitation. “We have won. The baseline has been crossed. We will now wait to see that Parliament actually repeals the laws and that the committee [mentioned by the PM] has a strong farmers’ voice,” said Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Dhakaunda faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). He indicated that the composition, tenure and mandate of the committee would have to be scrutinised, but hoped that “if the conditions are right, then we can go back”.

“We want to safeguard MSP also. But for many farmers in Punjab and Haryana, who are already getting MSP through government procurement, it was the repeal of the three laws that was the most critical factor and they feel the struggle is over,” said another Punjab leader who did not wish to be named.

In Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, the majority of farmers are yet to benefit from government procurement at MSP rates and a legal guarantee would have more significance for them. Electoral calculations will also play a role in the decision of how to take the protests forward, given that the SKM had declared a Mission UP campaign to oppose the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls.

“The MSP must be recognised as the right of all farmers, not just a few. We will continue to fight until all farmers get their due,” said Rakesh Tikait, who heads a western U.P. faction of the BKU. He has been vehement in insisting that farmers will bring their tractors to Parliament next week and will not end their protest until all demands are met. However, no discussions have yet been held with the Delhi police to facilitate any entry of protesters into the capital as was done during the previous Parliament session, according to at least two senior SKM leaders.

Some leaders are being pragmatic. “The movement cannot be stopped, but the form of the movement can be changed. We have been sitting here for one year, but we cannot stay forever,” said Mr. Mollah, indicating that one option could be a wider all-India agitation to replace the Delhi-centric sit-in of the last 12 months.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 10:04:58 AM |

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