Farmer unrest: To corner government, Opposition plans Bharat Bandh

The Opposition decided to press for a comprehensive loan waiver for farmers and implementation of the M S Swaminathan Commission’s five-part report.

Written by Anand Mishra | New Delhi | Updated: June 16, 2017 7:58 am
farmers, Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, Bharat Bandh, opposition, farmers unrest, farmers loans, farmers loans waiver, india news The Opposition decided to press for a comprehensive loan waiver for farmers and implementation of the M S Swaminathan Commission’s five-part report.

The Opposition parties have decided to organise a Bharat Bandh on the issue of farmer distress. The decision came in the meeting of the Opposition sub-group on Wednesday to discuss a strategy for the Presidential election. Sources said that the farmers’ unrest on a range of issues — falling prices, Minimum Support Price and debt — was discussed at the meeting where many Opposition leaders felt this was the “appropriate time” to seek answers from the government.

The Opposition decided to press for a comprehensive loan waiver for farmers and implementation of the M S Swaminathan Commission’s five-part report. That 2006 report had suggested detailed, sweeping reforms to address agrarian distress: from ensuring better credit and insurance to marketing to better access to technology; steps to promote land reforms and productivity to food security and employment.

The date for the Bharat Bandh, a source said, would be decided after parties discuss with their respective leaderships. On Wednesday, Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, an NDA ally from Maharashtra, met senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav at his residence here where the two discussed agrarian distress. Shetti’s party has set a deadline for the farm loan waiver in Maharashtra where protests have put the BJP government in a tight spot. A day before Rahul Gandhi visited Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh on June 7, Sharad Yadav and Gandhi had a long discussion at the JD(U) leader’s residence, too.

Yadav, incidentally, accompanied the Congress vice president to Mandsaur to protest against what he called was the MP government’s apathy towards protesting farmers. Later, a delegation of the All India Kisan Sabha, led by CPI(M) leader Hannan Mollah, also visited Mandsaur this week.

After Mandsaur, some Opposition leaders have planned a joint visit to Mandola in Uttar Pradesh to express solidarity with farmers who have been protesting there demanding revised compensation for land acquired under Avas Vikas Housing Scheme.

An Opposition leader said that agrarian crisis cuts across caste and community lines and could, therefore, be a potent political issue to corner the government with. More so, he said, because both MP and Maharashtra, where the protests reached a flashpoint, are BJP-ruled states.

“Sporadic farmer agitations were going on at a number of places. Our effort is to unite all such forces,” said a leader associated with the plans. A section is sceptical as well given the Opposition’s diffused agenda and failure to build a narrative around the protests so far. They cite the fact that in the run-up to UP polls, a rally was organized in Delhi on sugarcane prices and other farmers’ issues bringing parties like JD(S), NCP, Congress, JD(U), RLD and SP on the same stage. A rally was also organized in Muzaffarnagar to bridge the Hindu-Muslim divide under the overarching umbrella of farmer identity. However, this campaign failed to make any impact during the elections which the BJP won hands down.

However, on the land acquisition issue, after Opposition parties had joined hands in 2015 to call the government “anti-farmer” in and outside Parliament, the government was forced to retract its plan to bring key changes to the UPA’s 2013 land law.

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  1. V
    Jun 16, 2017 at 4:23 pm
    Allies of stan ISI, Cong and it's friends are inciting Farmers to rioting. Before that these goondas incited stone pelters in Kashmir and caste riot in saharanpur. They can even invite China to get power.
    1. K
      Kamal Pasha
      Jun 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm
      BHARAT BANDH is the only language these illiterates understand.
      1. S
        Jun 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm
        Previous Govt. is solely responsible for the farmers plight which is seen today. Now they are planning against this govt. a Bharat Bandh is foolishness which will be another 1000 crore loss in a day and take the economy growth down. They really don't care about the country's growth and only foresees personal gain. We the people should vote for NDA if Mr. Modi is the PM candidate again for the coming 2019 elections. All the subsidies allocated to Farmers are being taken away by the ghost farmers and middleman and hence the farmers plight. There is now way that Indian farmers plight is so bad even after 50 years of independence and Crores of subsidy given in these 50 years. Its all a different ball game all together.
        1. B
          Jun 16, 2017 at 12:42 pm
          Poor will continue to suffer and the politicians will continue to take selfies like Pankaja Munde over dried lakes and parched fields or at farmer funerals ... The powerful people do not care for the farmers and today they are deprived to sell their cattle on the roads for slaughter. Nobody wants to wed a farmer so bad is the stigma.
          1. B
            Jun 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm
            Bandh and hartal means congress goons will be on the roads and will r a p e women like they did in Haryana ...
            1. B
              Jun 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm
              So they { opposition } wants to celebrate 3 years of abstinence or banishment from power. Poor people are going to suffer more .... Opposition is facing heat in their states like WB and Kerala over local issues spiralling out of hand where Army has to be called in. Maharashtra issue is closed. A few embers still hot in MP. So the strategy by the oposition has failed and so they want to build a Bharat Bandh and make Pappu the hero of this.
              1. D
                Damodar Biswal
                Jun 16, 2017 at 11:08 am
                It is good that the opposition has finally decided to fight for the cause of the farmers who r considered to be the deprived class of the society.But why did UPA not implement the recommendation as the report was submitted in 2006.R the opposition parties playing politics?
                1. S
                  Surya Prakasam Prabhala
                  Jun 16, 2017 at 11:04 am
                  In all these years no purpose was served by these bandh stead these organisers can contribute one day hard labour in the fields of farmers.
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