Amidst the renewed agitation over the historic farm bills, activists have joined the movement in the hopes of gaining legitimacy. Renowned ‘activist’ Medha Patkar, who was in Burari ground with farmers, had claimed that the protest was against the ‘inequality’ in the country. She claimed that the agitation was in fact against the ‘divide’ between the corporates and the toiling masses. According to her, the historic farm bills paved the way for the entry of corporates into the agriculture sector. She opined that about 500 farmer organisations are, therefore ‘vehemently’ opposing the bill.
“The unprecedented unity among farmers will only pressurise the government to withdraw the three anti-farmer acts,” Medha Patkar stated. On being asked about the politicisation of the farmers’ protest, she alleged that these allegations are the handiwork of the BJP and its IT cell. “The farmers are protesting with a full understanding of the three acts and full understanding of the politics which is against farmers and for corporates,” the activist further alleged. She claimed that farmers, being fully aware of the implications of the act, had therefore been ‘forced’ to hit the streets amidst the Coronavirus lockdown.
Medha Patkar also alleged that the government used the ‘Coronavirus lockdown’ to hand over public services to the corporates. She claimed that the BJP government at the Centre was now eyeing the land of the farmers, similar to that of the British’s principle of eminent domain. Despite the logical fallacy in the overstretched analogy, she claimed, “We are for the people’s domain.” Medha Patkar also accused the BJP of not ‘adhering’ to the principles outlined by the Land Acquisition act, 2013 in the States ruled by the party. She said that it is the right of the Opposition parties to support her and the farmers’ protest, on being questioned about the politicisation of the demonstration.
Watch | “The farmer’s protest is against the vulgar inequity in this country. This inequity is increasing in every sector of our economy and livelihood’: Medha Patkar, Social Activist#FarmersProtest #FarmBill2020 pic.twitter.com/jt4IYXLU9w— NDTV (@ndtv) November 28, 2020
Medha Patkar also alleged that the BJP is against the notion of ‘dialogue’ and protest, which is a democratic right of the people of India. She stated that the government would only budge if the protest is intensified.
It is pertinent to remember that Medha Patkar never refuses to leave the limelight and joins popular protests in a bid to gain legitimacy. Last year in December, Medha Patkar suffered a huge embarrassment after Hindu refugees from Pakistan staying in Delhi had confronted her. The activist had to then abandon her anti-CAA protest and leave the spot. The refugees from Pakistan questioned Patkar’s intentions and asked her to prove whether she can go to Pakistan and survive the atrocities that they had to endure.
Sucheta De seeks legitimacy from farmers’ protest
Following the footsteps of Medha Patkar, Communist leader and activist Sucheta De addressed farmers at the Delhi’s Singhu border. She applauded the farmers for walking miles to reach close to the National Capital and said that the masses were seeking inspiration from their courage. With rhetorics such as ‘anti-farmer’, ‘anti-labourer’, and ‘anti-people’, Sucheta De tried to use the protest as a launchpad for her activism. “We will not fear the police as this issue concerns those who fill our stomachs,” she made an emotional appeal. The activist also alleged that the BJP wanted to sell the farmlands to corporate houses of Adani and Ambani. Accusing the BJP of not providing 1.5 times MSP, she also said that the land and produce belongs to them and would prevent corporatisation at any cost.
How Farm Bills will transform the agriculture sector?
In a bid to introduce reforms in the agriculture sector, the central government had introduced three bills: The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which were passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament.
The objective behind introducing these bill was to get rid of the inadequacies in the existing laws and mechanisms dealing with the sale of agricultural produce and ensure that farmers received a fair price for their produce. The three historic legislation will unlock the overly regulated agricultural markets in the country. The laws will provide more choices for the farmer and lessen the marketing costs for the farmers thus helping them to get better prices. It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.
The laws will enable the farmer to make use of modern technology and better inputs to enhance their farm produce and its trade. It will reduce the cost of marketing and improve the income of farmers. These new laws will encourage large companies, food processing firms, exporters, etc, to invest in the farm sector and source good-quality farm produce. The announced amendment to the Essential Commodities Act is expected to help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. The proposed changes will also create a competitive market environment and prevents wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.
Views of a few farmers about the historic act can be read here.