What did the 2020 Farm Bills of the Modi government do? The Act merely gave farmers the option to trade freely outside of APMCs, anywhere within India. The other thing it did was to abolish the Essential Commodities Act of 1955.
Since then, thousands of farmers from Punjab have been agitating against the bill. And now they have brought their agitation to Delhi, along with a handful of farmers from Haryana with similar demands. So called ‘liberal’ media in Delhi, still chafing from an unfavorable outcome in Bihar, has lapped up the movement at their doorstep. They have branded it a general “farmers protest,” implying that the protesters somehow represent people from all across India.
For days now, we have been told that farmers from the rest of India want to join. We just haven’t seen any. This has been further explained by the conspiracy theory that farmers are being blocked by the police from entering Delhi. Half of India depends on farming, but apparently blocking a couple of roads have held off an agitation comprising around 60 crore people.
And now, every frustrated duck with a quack who is against Modi wants to be seen with the “farmers protest.” The Congress. The AAP, which is active in Punjab. The Dadis of Shaheen Bagh. Everyone. Even the Canadian Prime Minister who remembers how PM Modi ignored him for a whole week in India.
The astonishing part about these protests is not the hypocrisy, but the extensive documentary trail that these people left. There is so much evidence that one could compile a book on this, but let us run through the highlights quickly.
(1) Congress manifesto for 2019 promised exactly these reforms
Here it is, in writing. Quite literally, the exact same promise.
And as for the Essential Commodities Act, the Congress had this to say.
Again, the language could not be clearer. The Congress went so far as to dismiss the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 as belonging to the “age of controls.” Imagine the situation when the Congress manifesto appears to take a potshot at Nehru.
It doesn’t end here. There is also an extensive trail of evidence of Dr. Manmohan Singh advocating for states to amend the APMC act and give more freedom to the farmer (see here in 2012 and here in 2009). But in typical UPA fashion, he didn’t actually get anything done. And now when the Modi government has implemented their own manifesto item, the Congress opportunistically has a problem with it.
Additionally, even though the latest Farm bills say nothing about Minimum Support Price (MSP) and do not alter the existing MSP regime in any way, the matter of MSP has been dragged into these protests. So perhaps it makes sense to mention here what Dr. Raghuram Rajan had to say on MSP back in 2014, when he was RBI governor.
And for good measure, the article also says:
“He also said the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, which governs marketing of agriculture produce, needs to be amended.“
MSP hikes cause inflation, eh? Bear in mind that Dr. Rajan also advised the Congress on key economic promises in their 2019 manifesto. Perhaps Dr. Rajan would like to do the nation a favor by explaining to the protesting farmers from Punjab exactly what is wrong with MSP hikes.
(2) Canadian government had opposed MSP for Indian farmers, PM-Kisan and even PM Fasal Bima Yojana
One of the unique features of this so called farmers protest is the involvement of a foreign government. The Canadian Prime Minister has tried to intervene in our domestic matter. And quite shockingly, his intervention has been welcomed by a large section of the ‘liberal’ commentariat in India.
First of all, the Canadian government has no standing to comment in a purely domestic matter of India. There has to be absolute clarity on that. But the intervention looks even more sinister when you realize that the Canadian government has essentially been at war with the farmers of India. From 2015 to 2019, Canada has vocally questioned India’s farm subsidies and repeatedly accused India of violating World Trade Organization (WTO) rules by means of MSP.
It gets even worse:
“Canada sought details of the PM-KISAN programme under which income support of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to small and marginal farmer families. … Canada also expressed doubt over the eligibility of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a crop insurance scheme, as a permitted subsidy under WTO.“
Just think about the cruelty of that. Canada is a rich and highly developed country, with a per capita GDP of well over $40,000 USD. And yet Canada wanted to oppose a cash transfer of just Rs 6000 (roughly $80) a year to small and marginal farmers of India. Shame!
And today, with a straight face, the Canadian government tries to be the spokesperson for Indian farmers. This is like the wolf trying to speak for the lambs. Is Canada trying to stoke civil war in India by taking advantage of the particular demography of the protesting farmers who happen to be from Punjab and therefore mostly Sikh? And why is Canada getting support from Indian intellectuals? What do these intellectuals stand to gain from supporting a foreign government that is at war with Indian farmers? What will these intellectuals gain from civil war in India?
(3) CPI/CPI(M) did not even implement APMCs in Kerala
If you thought only the Congress and the Canadian government were being hypocritical, we haven’t even come to the so called farmers unions who are protesting. In media coverage of these protests, you must have come across numerous images of farmers holding the dreaded hammer and sickle flag. Indeed, the Left Parties came together to make a joint statement in support of the protesters.
All state units? With the Communist Parties having their maximum strength in Kerala, I suppose we will see some large protests in Kerala. But you would be aghast to know the following:
“Being a state that has not implemented the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), farmers in Kerala feel that the opening up of trade with new farm laws might not make much impact in the existing trade systems in Kerala“
So there are no APMCs in Communist ruled Kerala at all! And yet, Communist parties are fearmongering that the new farm bills will lead to destruction of the APMCs and hurt the farmer! Well, it looks like irony just succumbed to the ‘Kerala model.’
(4) Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) demanded freedom from APMCs only in 2019
If you didn’t think it could get much worse, get a load of this.
This is not a dream. You are not hallucinating. The BKU demanded in writing that the Indian farmer be liberated from the tyranny of APMCs. This is from the official Twitter account of Bharatiya Kisan Union, active since November 2015.
You can go and check right now. The handle is very active at this moment, regularly posting updates on how they are leading the farmers protests. The industrial scale hypocrisy will blow your mind.
That’s all the hypocrisy I could find with a simple internet search and about an hour of spare time. I am sure there is much more out there.
Last but not the least, one thing needs to be said. While this article remains open for scrutiny, debate and criticism, the reader must be alert to a new kind of fraud that has taken off. These are left wing journalists who call themselves “fact checkers.” The intention is to dismiss anything critical of them with a banner headline that says “fake news.”
If you see such a headline, dig further. Remember, they are counting on you to read just the headline and skip over the rest. A genuine reason to label this article as “fake news” would be to show that I have altered the content of news sources, screenshots, etc presented herein. They won’t find that and they know it. What they might do instead is use weasel-words like “misleading” or “manipulated” below a banner headline calling it fake news.
What is “misleading”? And what is “manipulated”? Beware of some standard red flags (pun intended). No two policy proposals can be the same, word for word. In fact, no person can say the same thing twice in exactly the same words. Unless they can show that policy proposals from Congress, CPIM, the BKU and their new friend Canada were substantially different, don’t believe their labels. That is called debate, not fact-checking. Debate is most welcome, a sinister attempt to silence an opponent with a label is NOT.