Hoping to make themselves heard in the power centre of the nation, thousands of farmers, who had converged in Delhi from across the country, on Thursday began a two-day protest, backed by the Left, to press their demands including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
Farmers from 200 organisations have converged at Ramlila Maidan and will march to Parliament Street on Friday. They came from different corners of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Their key demands are debt relief and better minimum support price (MSP).
With less than two weeks to go for the winter session of Parliament, these farmers are demanding a special session dedicated to farmers and passage of two bills, the freedom of indebtedness bill and a bill to generate remunerative MSP.
P Sainath, senior Journalist and founder of PARI; Kiran Vissa, spokesperson, Swaraj Abhiyan; Narendra Taneja, spokesperson, BJP; Yoginder K Alagh, economist and former chairman, IRMA, and Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary, All India Kisan Sabha discuss how the NDA government will deal with anger among the farmer community in the upcoming session of Parliament.
P Sainath said not just a loan waiver, you need a proper reappraisal of your credit system. "From the mid-90s onwards, when all the finance ministers of the past two decades tell you we have doubled agricultural credit, we have tripled agricultural credit, and quadrupled it, they are telling you the truth, except that the money is not going to the agriculturist,” Sainath said.
Taneja said, “The important thing is the efforts that we have put in at the level of the centre in order to make life better for our farmers and we are focusing more on transforming the entire rural economy."
Vijoo Krishnan said, “It has been a huge betrayal by the BJP government that has led to these kinds of consistent protests that are coming up in our country."
This government is the most anti-farmer government we have seen in independent India, he said. "It had raised a lot of hopes in 2014, but each promise that was made to the farmers have been betrayed and that is why we are here out in protest,” Krishnan said.