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Centre should concede farmers' demands

Govt may hike farm credit target to about Rs 19L cr
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Govt may hike farm credit target to about Rs 19L cr

Highlights

The NDA government is back in spotlight and is facing the heat of farmers as thousands of them have marched to the national capital to protest against the farm laws that were enacted by the Parliament in September

The NDA government is back in spotlight and is facing the heat of farmers as thousands of them have marched to the national capital to protest against the farm laws that were enacted by the Parliament in September. Farmers of Punjab have been in the forefront opposing these laws. Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh also joined them in the revolt against the new law. Initially the NDA government thought the agitation by Punjab farmers was politically motivated since Congress had opposed the three farm bills.

But it appears that the issue is now taking more serious turn as the farmers want that the bill be repealed or ensure that the farmer get Minimum Support Price. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought to dispel concerns about the recently passed farm laws and cited an example of a farmer who used the new law to his advantage. But the stories narrated by the Prime Minister during his Mann Ki Baat did not seem to cut much ice with them.

It now remains to be seen to what extent the proposed talks would help in resolving this agriculture crisis. In 1970s, Punjab was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Green Revolution. Interestingly, farmers from the same State which is known as the 'Bread Basket' of India are back on the roads leading a massive agitation. Such agitations are not new for Delhi. In the 1980s, the Bharatiya Kisan Union formed by the farmer leader Choudary Charan Singh had laid seize to Delhi protesting against high power tariffs and erratic supply.

The lawns of Boat Club and the area around Rajpath had witnessed a massive rally. Post Charan Singh, Mahendra Singh Tikait took over the BKU and a massive dharna was organised in Meerut in January 1988. Both these rallies attracted lakhs of farmers including women. The Uttar Pradesh government relented to the pressure by providing concessions and including the BKU representatives in the Agricultural Prices Commission and local development bodies. Some agitations under the leadership of Devi Lal also took place.

But the present agitation appears to be more organised. The farmers who came in tractors came well prepared with ration, tractors trolleys covered so that they be used as protection from chill weather during night, stoves and utensils to cook food in Langar style as it happens in Gurudwaras. In the absence of lights, they are switching on the headlights of tractors and cars and cooking food. Though there have been some clashes initially, by and large they have been peaceful. Such preparations were never seen in the past and towards the end of the dharnas and rallies, the returning agitators used to indulge in arson.

This time the farmers have shown how organised the massive agitations can be and yet make them powerful enough to force the government to not only take cognisance of their protests but also decide to hold talks. In all probability, the Centre would now come out with a clear statement on the issue of Minimum Support Price and defuse the agitation. Introducing reforms need not mean that the farmers' genuine demands should be ignored. Let's hope that talks with open mind from both sides would resolve the issue soon and farmers go back to their fields.

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