Victory, But the Farmers Struggle Will Continue
Farmers and Opposition react to the PM's repeal of the three laws
‘Sangrami Mubarakan’, ‘Inquilabi Mubarakan’ (revolutionary greetings) were exchanged immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the repeal of the three farm laws. A sweet victory as it comes after a year of struggle and on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
The farmers distributed sweets at some places but for the large were cautionary in their approach, waiting for word from their umbrella organisation the Samyukta Kisan Morcha. And the word was, the struggle will continue until Parliament endorses the repeal and the government ensures a legal guarantee for the minimum support price which has been a key demand as well.
As farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said, "MSP is for farmers all over the country and the Prime Minister has not said anything on this." He went on to regret that the government was working to preserve the interests of "Adani and Ambani". And joined others in pointing out that the repeal was because of the sacrifice of the 750 plus farmers who had died during the course of the one year struggle, because of the women, the adivasis, the poor farmers who had stayed solidly behind the movement.
He said that the government had realised that the UP elections due early next year were not going in its favour.
The farmers have decided to go ahead with their November 26 programs being held to observe the anniversary of their first march to Delhi.
“It is big victory of the people who now have more confidence instilled in them that the people’s power can make anything happen. While a battle has been won, the struggle continues. The Prime Minister has kept quiet on the issue of the MSP for which a strategy will be worked out by the farmers’ leadership. There is also a strong message that people’s battles are to be fought unitedly to achieve results,” Narayan Dutt of Inquilabi Kendra Punjab said. Dutt is based in Barnala and has been instrumental in galvanising support for the movement.
“This victory has come at a huge price. Hundreds of farmers have lost their lives braving all the hardships. We had to brave several storms. We are determined to send maximum people for the November 26 event to Delhi to send out a loud and clear message about people’s power,” he said.
His statement can be analyzed through the prism of various developments around the farmers’ agitation in the last one year. The farmers faced batons, water cannons and a smear campaign from the embedded media that called them ‘Anti national’, ‘Khalistani’, ‘Naxalites’, ‘Maoists’ and ‘Andolanjeevis’.
Every attempt was made from different corners to divide them by orchestrating various incidents.
But they remained united and found support from civil society across India and lots of support even pouring in from celebrities across the world that included leaders of foreign nations.
One of the largest continuing agitations, the farmers’ movement is being called a movement of ‘hope’ by many as it took on the corporate model that has been in vogue since early 1990s.
It also saw the empowerment of women who led several protests. Dalits and Muslims and the workers and landless labour all came together in this stir..
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) issued a statement making it clear that it would be seen as a 'historic victory' if Parliament rolled back the laws as well.
The statement read, “The Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi announced the Government of India's decision to repeal all three anti-farmer, pro-corporate black laws first brought in as Ordinances in June 2020. He chose to announce this on Guru Nanak Jayanti. The SKM welcomes this decision and will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures. If this happens, it will be a historic victory of the one year long farmers' struggle in India.”
The SKM leadership further said, “However, nearly 700 farmers have been martyred in this struggle. The central government's obstinacy is responsible for these avoidable deaths, including the murders at Lakhimpur Kheri. The SKM also reminds the Prime Minister that the agitation of farmers is not just for the repeal of the three black laws, but also for a statutory guarantee of remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and for all farmers. This important demand of farmers is still pending. So also is the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill. The SKM will take note of all developments, hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions. “
“There is a widespread feeling of joy. The agitation of the farmers stands justified by the acceptance of their demand by the Prime Minister. It is a very big development that carries a lot of messages and is historical. It has been a movement of the people not only regarding the farm laws but to save democracy and the country as a whole,” Inderjeet of the All India Kisan Sabha who is based in Hisar in Haryana said.
He pointed that the recent by poll results in various states were a clear writing on the wall for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which the government seems to have read clearly.
“They are particularly scared in Uttar Pradesh that goes to polls in a couple of months. They know that the results there will have a bearing on the parliamentary polls of 2024. The victory of the people also carries another important message that the myth of Modi and BJP under him being invincible stands exploded. The whole ‘win-win’ narrative that was propagated stands shattered,” he told The Citizen.
Reactions have been pouring in on the political front as well. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted saying, “Desh ke annadata ne Satyagraha se ahankar ka sar jhuka diya. Anyaya ke khilaf ye jeet Mubarak ho. Jai Hind…Jai Hind ka Kisan” (The country’s food growers have compelled the arrogant to bow their head through Satyagraha. Congratulations on this victory against injustice).
Prominent Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran went on to say in his tweet, “ Our #farmers braved all odds and sat in protests for almost a year hoping the PM listens to them. But the gear of upcoming elections forced the BJP to reduce #Fueltaxloot & now, repeal the #farmlaws! What will it take to withdraw #CAA? #2024Polls?”
Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has come out saying, “The BJP of the rich tried to cheat the poor farmers through land acquisition and black laws. They planted nails, made cartoons pulling hair and mowed them with Jeep but scared of the public support to Jan Samarthan Yatra of SP in Purvanchal, they have withdrawn the black laws. The BJP should tell when those responsible for the deaths of hundreds of farmers will be punished?”
Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal has stated, “A historic victory of farmers on the historic and sacred day of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Parkash Purab. It's a defining moment in the history and the greatest event in the history of farmers' struggles all over the world. I thank the great Guru Sahiban and congratulate every farmer working hard on his fields. The implications of this victory will have wide-ranging and long-lasting impact on the struggle for justice for the poor & the deprived across the world. While I congratulate the farmers of Punjab, the country and the world, my heart goes out to families of 700 farmers martyred in the noble struggle! This and the disgraceful incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri will always remain a dark blot on this government’s face. These brave sons of soil would remain martyrs to cause of justice for farmers, a cause to which my whole life has been dedicated. It was first time in history of democratic governments that brazen and cruel laws were made without taking stake holders on board.”
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in his tweet, “The coming generations will remember how the farmers of this country put their lives at stake to save the farmers and farming. I bow my head to the farmers of my country.”