Statement of Lok Raj Sangathan, 26 Nov 2021
Source of image: https://viacampesina.org/en/india-massive-farmers-protest-against-pro-business-agricutural-policies/
In an address to the nation on November 19, PM Modi announced the withdrawal of three farm laws against which lakhs of kisans have been agitating across the country for a year.
While announcing this withdrawal the PM made many claims. He said that the government has always acted in the best interests of the kisans. He added that the BJP government had initiated several measures for the well-being of kisans in the sphere of insurance, agricultural infrastructure and procurement and that these laws ‘were introduced as part of this great campaign to improve the condition of the farmers’. He claimed that the aim of these bills was to empower the small farmers so that ‘they should get the right price for their produce and more options to sell their produce’. He also reiterated that ‘a large number of farmers and several farmers’ organisations across the country welcomed and supported it’. He finally apologised to the nation that perhaps the government could not explain and convince the kisans about what is good for them.
The actual fact of the matter is starkly different. Throughout the country kisans have had the worst deal for decades. Lakhs of kisans continue to commit suicide because of increasing debt and bankruptcy. Procurement of food grains in most states is pathetic. Procurement of their produce at recommended prices is not guaranteed at all. Most kisans do not have insurance cover. They have little access to infrastructure for storage and transport. Their input costs have risen far more than the increase in procurement prices.
In this situation of devastation, the farm laws were introduced with the sole purpose of enabling total control of agricultural procurement and trade in the hands of the largest monopolies, doing away with even the modicum of security that kisans had so far.
In the past one year the BJP government pushed the farm laws on the kisans using the most repressible means. It spread rumours that the kisans were “Khalistanis” and “terrorists”. It tried its best to break their unity. It was instrumental in several attacks and provocations to weaken the struggles of kisans.
The proposed repeal of the farm laws has been projected as a victory for democracy. But what kind of democracy do we have where the government was able to push through farm laws in parliament when crores of kisans and more than 500 kisan organisations opposed them? What kind of democracy is this where kisans remained powerless in opposing the bills and to recall their elected representatives who voted for the bills? What kind of democracy is this when 700 kisans lost their lives for protesting against unjust laws?
It cannot be denied that the repeal of the laws will make no difference to the existing situation. There is still no guarantee for the procurement of their produce at the formula recommended by the Swaminathan Committee. There is no guarantee that all farm produce across states will be procurement by the public distribution system. Kisans still do not have any guarantee for their livelihood. None of these genuine rights of crores of kisans have been enshrined in the Constitution.
The victory is only partial, to say the least, considers the dangers facing the people now. Elections in several states are due next year. Invariably it is an occasion for the political parties of the ruling establishment to divide the people on the basis of religion, caste and party affiliations and marginalise them further in the political process. It serves to line up the people behind two or three coalitions all of whom work against the empowerment of people. It is a time when the ruling elite decides on which party is the best to fool the people for the next few years.
The struggle of kisans is part of the overall struggle to end the marginalisation of the people in the political process. It is a part of the struggle to overhaul the political process in such a way that the domination of political parties of the ruling elite is broken and people are enabled to play a central role in the day to day affair of the country. From this point of view the struggle has not ended.