Will renewed farmer protests rock Delhi again?
Having completed their harvesting season, selling their produce in the mandis, and electing a new government, the Punjab farmers are now looking towards the sowing season a bit worriedly.
Having completed their harvesting season, selling their produce in the mandis, and electing a new government, the Punjab farmers are now looking towards the sowing season a bit worriedly. The Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department has notified a timetable for sowing the fields due to power problems. Usually, the paddy farmers require at least 8-hours of power supply daily for running their tube wells daily for watering their crops.
As per the notification most part of Malwa region will have early dates of sowing as they will cultivate the longer duration variants of paddy. For Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) technique, the entire state can transplant paddy from May 20 and similarly different dates have been announced for different varieties. They are eager that the sowing season is completed without any hitch as there is another important season ahead for them - that of protests.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) is eyeing closely all the developments in the state. It is also fully aware of the fact that the power crisis is also helping in building discontent among the farmers. Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the union which commands five lakh activists in over 1,600 villages spanning more than 16 districts in the State, says there is not much time left for the launch of the renewed phase of farmers' protest at Delhi.
He, and alongside, the other 30 plus unions of Punjab are seething in discontent over the Centre's silence on the agreed upon moves. They had withdrawn their agitation last year after a year-long struggle when the Centre gave an assurance to address all the issues while announcing the taking back of the three contentious farm laws. However, nothing much transpired later and in fact, a member of the Committee constituted by the Court to study the issue in-depth had revealed the findings of the report compiled by it that stated that most of the farmers did not agree with their unions.
Did the Centre act in haste in rolling back the farm laws? Could have been. As such, the rolling back of the farm laws was not the uniform demand of the farmers in the country. It was more confined to Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh. If the farmers' movement had its reverberations in the rest of the country, it was more political. It was always known that the gathering at Delhi had not always been that of the farmers.
Anti-BJP opposition workers joined the sit-in in large numbers and the overseas publicity garnered by the movement also helped in keeping it afloat. Whether the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) which spearheaded the agitation and which postponed the agitation on December 9, 2021 would be a part of the relaunch plans is not yet known.
Any relaunch of the agitation would only strengthen the BJP argument that the stir was politically motivated as Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be having Assembly elections this year. Meghalaya goes to the polls early next year. A year later i.e., in 2024 it is time for general elections. Strangely, Sukhdev Singh had admitted to the media there could be all shades of farmers including the 'Khalistanis' amongst them. This admission is bound to complicate the matter for the farmers and also the renewed efforts from across the border to stir the Khalistan cauldron. That is certainly no good news.