The central government’s decision to push through two crucial farm Bills through the Lok Sabha despite protests from the Opposition parties inside and the farmers outside has created a common platform for all. A nationwide bandh has been announced for September 25 with even Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh declaring that he will take the BJP and its allies, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, to court over the farm legislations.

The farmers continue to seethe with anger even as protests carry on across the states, with Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejaswi Yadav also set to make this an election issue in Bihar that is going to the polls later this year.

“All the 31 farmer organizations, even some of whom do not see eye to eye, have come together and this is unprecedented in Punjab. They know that this is a fight for a common cause and in all probability labour and youth organizations will also join hands with them”, eminent agricultural economist Dr Gian Singh told The Citizen.

“The most dangerous thing is the ushering in of contract farming. The US experience is that the cartels procure produce of only big farmers. In India 86 % peasantry is small. This means that the small farmer will have to sell at much lower rates to the big farmers from whom the corporate will procure further,” he added.

Angry over the way the government passed the bills in Parliament, Ludhiana based kisan leader Harinder Singh Lakhowal said, “Even today we had protests at 200 places. We are coordinating with our brethren across neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh for the bandh on September 25. It is not just the MSP but the whole proposal of procurement by private players is dangerous. How will we chase the private players for our payments and neither do we have the resources to fight the corporates in the courts if they indulge in any wrong doings.”

Adding to what he said, Sangrur based Gobinder Singh of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) told this reporter, “This whole concept of one nation one Mandi is a ploy of the government to flee from its responsibilities of procurement. The procurement mechanism is at work only in some of the states like Punjab and Haryana that too for limited crops like wheat and paddy. They just want to abdicate and bring these states at par with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.”

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has described the manner of passing the farm bills in Rajya Sabha as the ‘end of Parliamentary Democracy’.

“Many of the MPs from the ruling alliance including Telangana Rashtra Samithi, All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam etc also spoke strongly against the agriculture bills and the government was not morally enjoying the majority support in the upper house. This is the indication of the political polarization taking place at the state and national levels based on the awakening among the peasantry against the anti farmer policies of the Narendra Modi Government,”All India Kisan Sabha president Ashok Dhawale and general secretary Hannan Mollah stated.

“Even in the tiny hill state of Himachal Pradesh, the farmers and horticulturists who are in the middle of their apple harvest will be joining the protests on September 25. The apple growers are already bearing the brunt of corporate farming as they see the prices crashing because of manipulations,” Sanjay Chauhan of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti said.

The way the farm issue is playing out in the political domain is also very interesting. It was the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) that raised the banner of revolt on the issue within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with Harsimrat Kaur Badal quitting her cabinet post on Thursday. Her husband and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal reacted to the push through of the farm bills through Parliament by posting a tweet that read, “Urging President of India not to sign the Bills on farm issue & return them to #Parliament for reconsideration. Please intervene on behalf of farmers, labourers, and arhtiyas. Mandi labour and Dalits, or they will never forgive us.."

He qualified it by saying," Democracy means consensus not oppression. A sad day for democracy indeed if it leads to 'annadata' starving or sleeping on roads."

Captain Amarinder Singh has come out vowing to fight to protect the interest of the state's farmers till his last breath. “We will move the courts and fight the draconian legislation as soon as they get the presidential nod and become the law of the land,” he said while expressing shock at the way the union government 'brute-forced' the agriculture bills through Parliament.

Meanwhile the protests by farmers continue to rock Haryana although the mainstream media has blocked these out. The state heartland saw farmers organizing road blockades at several places like Dadri, Gohana and many other small towns including Sirsa.

After Harsimrat Badal quit the Union Cabinet, there are sounds of dissent coming from deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala of the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) that is a partner of the BJP in the state.

Under constant attack from his previous party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the Congress and others for continuing to be a part of the state government, Om Prakash Chautala came out Sunday with, “the farmers’ right to MSP will be retained. I will resign from my post if any issue arises.” He however attacked the Congress for having advocated open market and contract farming during their term in office.

Opposition leader and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has stated, “A special session of the assembly should be called and these three laws should be rejected outright, on the lines of Punjab. These laws should be discussed in the House so that people also know which party and member stands with the farmer and those who stand against them.”

The Punjab assembly had in August passed a resolution rejecting the farm ordinances during a special one day session. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members, AAP rebels and Lok Insaf Party (LIP) members had supported the resolution moved by Amarinder Singh. The Akalis had not attended the session.