Farmers unions from various parts of the country are protesting against three farms bills at Singhu and Tikri at the Delhi border. On the 26th of November 2020, this protest began and is still going on. The farmers union had said that they will end the protest only when their demands are accepted by the government.
Amid Coronavirus in June 2020, the central government brought these three farming ordinances into the cabinet. After this on 17 September 2020, the Lok Sabha passed the bills, and Rajya Sabha passed them on 20 September 2020. In the Rajya Sabha during voting on the bills, huge chaos was seen. The opposition parties claimed that the deputy chairman had violated the law and committed malpractice. Eight Members of the opposition were suspended from Rajya Sabha.
The three bills which are caused the farmers’ agitation are The Farmers Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, which aims to dismantle existing trade and distribution monopolies, which is enjoyed by the Food Corporation Of India(FCI) and the Agricultural Produce Market(APMC). This act will now allow farmers to sell outside of their designated districts APMC, thereby advancing their interaction with the market directly.
The second is the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Service bill, which focuses on creating avenues for farmers to engage in contract farming through verbal or written contracts. This bill paves the way for farmers to access national and corporate markets.
The last is an amendment to Essential Commodities Act,1955, according to which, cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions, and potatoes have been deregulated.
The government told that the bill will empower the farmers through greater market access and expanded opportunities for commercial outcomes. By eliminating the APMC monopoly, the bills do away with the longstanding challenge of middlemen. This will bring private and corporate investment into the sector. This will help to boost up the infrastructure and modernize the sector. There will be competition that will directly benefit the farmers. The contract will also help the farmers to get the real prices for their goods.
Farmers leaders are saying that after dissolving the APMC, there is a possibility of farmers receiving prices below the minimum support price(MSP). They are also quoting a similar bill by the government of Bihar in the year 2006. The state dissolved the APMCs and the consequences were negative.
Recently, a study was conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, found that there is nothing like Minimum Support Price(MSP) in the state. One report was published in Down to Earth that said that farmers in Bihar are getting half of the MSP which are given by the Central Government. They are telling before implementing this government should look at Bihar.
They are also saying that 85% of the Indian farmers are marginal farmers so how they will transport their crops from one place to another. They don’t have transportation facilities to access the market.
Big corporates will likely bury the farmers in an avalanche of legal resources. There is no denying that there is widely disproportionate access to legal resources between farmers and corporates and there seems to be no real law in place to safeguard the interest of farmers. Both farmers and consumers run the risk of exploitation by placing the market in the hands of big businesses.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha is running the protest. It was formed in November 2020, it is a coalition of forty farmers’ unions across the country. It includes farmers’ unions from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and other states. The prominent groups are Bhartiya Kisan Union and its factions, Krantikari Kisan Union, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha(AIKS), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, and many other outfits are there.
The main face of the farmers’ protest is Rakesh Tikait, Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Dr. Darshan Pal, and Yogendra Yadav.
Indian media was defaming the protest by giving so many synonyms to it. This was creating misinformation about the agitation so some of the people came together and establish a biweekly newspaper named Trolley Times. Navkiran Natt is the editor of Trolley Times. They also built their network across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and youtube.
There were 11 rounds of dialogue happened between the government and farmers’ unions but no result came of it. Both the parties are blaming each other for the failure of negotiations.
Many celebrities showed their support in the protest against the farm bills. American Popstar Rihanna tweeted in solidarity with the farmers. Greta Thunberg also tweeted on the issue. Many sports stars also supported the farmers. A spat was seen between some celebrities on the agitation. Anna Hazare came out in support of it but refused at the last moment. He met with the ex-CM of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and agreed to withdraw support.
Many political happenings had taken place due to this bill and protest. Firstly Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the post of cabinet minister. Tejashwi Yadav did a tractor rally in support of the farmers. Many opposition party’s governments rejected the bill through assemblies. Akali Dal, NDA’s oldest ally partner left the government.
According to an Outlook report, 582 farmers have died in the ongoing protest said Hanna Mollah general secretary All India Kisan Sabha. This report came when the Indian Government denied the death of farmers.
When Farmers unions decided to hit the roads on the day of Republic Day. Some people came into the march and created a nuisance. More than thousands of people went to Red Fort. One man among them hoisted the Khalistani Flag on the flag post. These activities were taken into account by both Government and Media. The government started planning to take action on the destination where they were protesting. The media was spoiling the perception of agitation. Spokesperson of BKU Rakesh Tikait got emotional in front of the media and that emotion spread out across the country.
The 26 January 2021 incident made Rakesh Tikait a prominent leader of farmers in the country. He is the younger son of Mahendra Singh Tikait who was also a farmer leader. His brother Naresh Tikait is the president of BKU. He hails from western Uttar Pradesh. Before becoming a part of BKU, he was a constable in the Delhi Police. He belongs to the Baliyan khaap panchayat of Muzaffarnagar. His community is dominant in the western Uttar Pradesh region. He had contested Lok Sabha and assemblies election but never won it.
Rakesh Tikait started doing mahapanchayats across the country. he had taken part in panchayats across Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. He also held many rallies during the West Bengal assembly election in support of Mamta Banerjee. His impact was visible after the election when the results came out in the favour of Mamta Banerjee. He is planning to show his impact in the Uttar Pradesh election. He too belongs to Uttar Pradesh. Now he is a poster boy of Farmers Protest. Recently he told in an interview that he will now be planning to move to Lucknow. Many cases are filed against him in many states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and MP.