CONTINUING FARM PROTESTS BRING FOCUS ON RURAL DISTRESS
The Morning Standard|November 28, 2021
THE surprise Gurpurab announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the 3 contentious farm laws would be repealed in the coming winter session of Parliament was designed to take the wind out of the sails of the Opposition ahead of the state elections. Some called it a ‘masterstroke’! Most expected the farmers will pack up from Delhi’s borders and head home.
GURBIR SINGH

On the ground, things are different. As the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) celebrates its one year of struggle against the farm laws, the movement of tractors and rustic folk is in the direction of Delhi, not away from it.

Farmers leader Rakesh Tikait, speaking at Hyderabad, made it clear that now that they had the nation’s attention, the protestors wouldn’t budge till their other important demands, like a MSP law, are met. What he’s saying is: we’ll keep the fires burning till the elections early next year. Makes sense: With the repeal of the laws, why should they let the advantage pass to the BJP?

Residual demands

The continuing farmers’ protests will now have two important goals: getting the government to agree to the residual but important outstanding demands; and to bring the spotlight on the plight of the rural economy.

Among the most important demands they are pushing is a law recognising MSP. Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a mechanism accepted by the government since the 1970s to ensure that paddy and wheat farmers are protected against a sharp fall in market prices. This is an accepted policy, and the government says it is committed to implement it. Then why is there hesitation in backing it by le gal legislation?

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