Bharat Bandh today: As farmer unions across the country prepare for Bharat bandh on Tuesday, Shetkari Sanghatana — the union founded by farmer leader Sharad Joshi — has decided to take a different route. Anil Ghanwat, president of the union, told The Indian Express that not only will they not be participating in the nationwide strike but will also oppose any move to roll back the three farm laws.
Since the last few days, thousands of farmers mainly from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting at the borders of New Delhi, demanding a complete rollback of the new farm laws. Repeated rounds of talk with the central government have failed to bring any solution, with farmer leaders slated to meet the government again on Wednesday. The Bharat Bandh called by the farmers has been supported by all major Opposition parties, trade unions as well as farmer bodies.
Ghanwat, however, said the present laws aim to allow the farmers access to free market, which was denied so far. “For farmers in Maharashtra, this freedom would mean better prices. Also, the competition would ensure better price discovery,” he said.
Ghanwat added that union founder Joshi was a strong proponent of free market and the laws are actually a dream come true for the Sanghatana.
Back in 1990s, Joshi had led thousands of farmers from Maharashtra to support the ongoing sit-in organised by senior farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait. Joshi’s tryst with the seize did not go well after he was shoved off the platform by his opponents. However, many say that the current protest was reminiscent of the massive movement of 1990s. “While we oppose the demand, we do condemn the treatment of the farmers by the police in Haryana,” he said.
“For farmers in Punjab and Haryana, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has a well-oiled system of procurement, which helps them sell their produce at the minimum support price (MSP) within 15 days of harvest. However, for farmers in other states, MSP is a mirage that is never materialised,” he said.
The farmers’ union has expressed its willingness to suggest the Centre various amendments that could be made to the three farm laws. “We have written to the central government for a meeting,” he said.
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