Farm Laws: Step towards introduction of Neoliberal policies
Abass Rather, Aqib Yousuf
Ever since NDA government started its second inning on 30th May, 2019, the anti-working class and pro-Corporate policies have began to gain prominence. Constitutional institutions are losing their significance as they are being manipulated by various factors.
The government’s policy of undermining the federal structure of Union of India and Centralising everything is basically the assault on the very basis of Constitution. They are taking undue advantage of pandemic by pushing through anti-farmer and anti -worker legislations without taking farmer unions and the people related to it in confidence. The recent passing of three farm laws first brought through ordinance and then passed by voice vote in the Rajy Sabha without any discussion, is the serious assault on the Constitution and the foundation of democracy.
The three farm laws viz The ‘Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020’ and ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020’ and ‘The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is an attack against federal principles and snatching the rights of the state governments.
Pertinently, Agriculture is listed in the state list of the seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Consultation of state governments and farmers were not considered imperative by the government which is believed to be corporate friendly. These farm laws are meant to strengthen the agribusiness corporates who as of now seem to be the biggest beneficiaries. This is known to everyone how big corporates are getting benefitted and helped in the acquisition of land by the current dispensation. Laws are amended and even new laws are promulgated to benefit big corporates.
We are witness to the fact that due to low income and debt farmers are committing suicide at a very high rate. These new laws will further deteriorate the already deteriorated conditions of the farmers. Farmers are protesting against these laws from the past three months and demand the immediate repeal of these anti-Kisan, anti-worker and pro-corporate farm laws and the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill.
There were tens of thousands of farmers stationed near the Delhi border mostly from Punjab, Haryana and UP. The farmers are being led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), consisting of over 500 Kisan organisations in the country. Kisans show an unprecedented unity and harmony.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s decision to organise tractor parade on Republic Day did not suit the government. They were at the outset denied permission but the steadfastness shown by the Kisan Morcha pressed the administration to give the green signal. On Republic day,26 January, tens of thousands of tractors began their tractor parade, hoisted tricolor along with their organisational flag on their tractors, peacefully to show the peasant unity.
Some fringe elements backed by certain elements tried hard to discredit and dismantle the movement by barging into the premises of Red Fort and hoisting Sikh Nishan Sahba on an empty pole. The media highlighted the issue so much to tarnish the peaceful protest by focusing only on Red Fort incident.
It is not a hidden fact that the main culprit on whose behest this was done was nowhere linked with the farm protests. As reported by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS] 99.99 percent farmers paraded peacefully and only 0.01percent were involved in the Red fort incident. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha not only condemned the incident but demanded thorough investigation so that main culprits get punished.
BJP wants to dismantle and tarnish the farmer protest using different tactics at different point of time. At the very outset they labelled the protesting farmers as ‘Khalistani’ and then later on were branded as Maoists and Naxalites. They even blamed opposition for instigating the farmers against the nation. All these ill conceived tactics were properly tackled by the farmers.
After failing to cow down the farmers the government used pressure tactics by snatching the basic facilities like water, make shift toilets, electricity, ration and even used some mischievous people to pelt stones on the agitators. In spite of all the dirty tactics the enthusiasm and steadfastness shown by the farmers proved unprecedented. It is important to mention here that almost over hundred farmers sacrificed their lives during the protest. Singhu Border has become the epicentre of Kisan protest.
This protest is not limited to only few states as propagated by the corporate media houses and those who do not wish to side with the truth. Protests are being held from Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala and farmers from almost every state joined this Kisan Movement.
Ashok Dhalwa AIKS, president remarked, “The most heart-warming aspect of these Kisan Tractor Parades was the love and affection showered on them by the common people in and around Delhi. Thousands of them came out on the streets to welcome the farmers, showered rose petals on them, and offered them sweets, water bottles and other eatables. This showed strong public support to their cause. ”
SKM unequivocally announced that the farmers struggle will continue and intensify throughout the country until its demands are not accepted.
Government’s adamancy in not paying heed to the demand of repealing the farm laws may end up in greater crises. Every act of the government should be in the interest of whole nation and just for the interest of the few corporates, whole farmer community cannot be sacrificed. The government should not make this an issue of prestige. The sooner these farm laws are repealed, the better it would be for the country.
(Abass Rather is a socio-Political activist and Aqib Yousuf is a student of law at Kashmir University)