Reflecting on the current farmer agitation in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Magsaysay award winner Palagummi Sainath said the government does not have the intention to work on the agrarian crisis. In an interview to India Today, the rural affairs journalist said: “The government knows the things it can do. But it has no intention of doing them. It lied to the people when it said it would give them what they wanted when it came to power.”
While farmers in Maharashtra have been protesting over multiple issues including crop loan waiver and plummeting crop prices, in Madhya Pradesh, six people were killed allegedly in police firing after a protest in Piplia Mandi went violent on June 6. In MP’s Mandsaur, farmers have been protesting since June 1 to demand minimum support price for their farm produce among other things.
“Every long-term agitation has different phases. I think this phase may come to an end in a few days. Unless the government is sincere about addressing the problems instead of abusing the adversaries, the discontent won’t go away,” Sainath told India Today. The veteran journalist also added how the government has not “had a one-minute discussion on Swaminathan Commission reports in Parliament.” Also read | Farmers protests: What is Swaminathan Commission Report and how is its implementation relevant? Click here.
After Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced to fulfil the poll promise of crop loan waivers, farmers all across the country began demanding the same. Many also critiqued that the move could bankrupt the exchequer. “Mr Adani gets a loan from SBI which is greater than the entire farmer debt of this country. The giant share of NPAs in banks are from corporate houses that have simply refused to give back the money they have taken. The exchequer was bankrupted long ago by a smaller number of people,” Sainath said.
Both the BJP-ruled states, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, have criticised the Congress and other opposition parties for politicising the current farmer unrest. CM Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra has also alleged that political workers were leading the farmer agitation in the state. “If someone else is trying to agitate in the name of farmers, the government will not talk to these people,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “Most of the people staging protests are not real farmers. They are political workers,” Fadnavis reportedly said. Also read | Why farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are protesting. Click here.
Calling out Fadnavis on his statement, Sainath said, “This is a complete canard put out by him. How many people are there in his cabinet with rural roots? How can they decide who is a genuine farmer and who is not? Fadnavis says he will talk to genuine farmers. The farmers are going to the streets and talking to him but he is not listening.”
He also said that the Maharashtra government needed to do away with the practice of preventive detention for farm activists. “Just this morning in Tasgaon, farm activists are being illegally detained. Maharashtra never had the phenomenon of preventive detention.”
Talking on Mandsaur police firing, Sainath said that the BJP-NDA government works on the basis of finding a conspiracy. “The entire nature of the BJP-NDA is that they always find a conspiracy. People are shot dead in MP and they say our police didn’t do it. The CM now says that one of the firings may be by the police. Everything proceeds on the basis of finding a conspiracy,” he said.
“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised to double farm income within five years. It seems to me what we will have is doubling of firing and killings of farmer and farmer suicides,” Sainath told India Today. “I think Madhya Pradesh is a sign of things to come.”