Bhopal: The dissatisfaction among farmers over the farm loan waiver and the Centre’s three farm laws could derail the electoral calculations of the Bharatiya Janatar Party (BJP) and the Congress in the Madhya Pradesh bypolls on November 3.
Many of the farmers from the Gwalior-Chambal region are unhappy with the Congress’ “incomplete” farm loan waiver scheme. The grand old party claimed to have waived farm loans of 26 lakh farmers out of the 55 lakh applications received by its government in the 15 months it was in-charge.
“They promised to waive farm loans within 10 days of the formation of the government, but even after being in power for 15 months, the Congress government failed to do so,” said 50-year-old Raj Singh Bhadoriya of Bhind district, who took a loan of Rs 32,000 and has 35 acres of cultivation land.
Some farmers who voted for the BJP opposed the three agriculture laws brought in by the Parliament last month. The three bills enable contractual farming, sale and purchase of crops outside the Krishi Mandi and unlimited storage of cultivated crops.
“Although I’m an ardent supporter of the BJP, the recently passed laws are like Kaala Kanoon,” said Sanjeev Sharma. He hails from Maharajpur village in Bhind district and has 30 acres of land. “We will protest if this bill curtails our income,” he added.
Many of the Maharajapur’s residents and those from adjacent villages also opposed the new farm laws. The Rastriya Kisan Mazdur Mahasangh (RKMM), led by the farmer leader Shivkumar Sharma, recently organised a week-long protest in the poll-bound districts of the state to create awareness among the farmers over the new farm laws.
The RKMM also published a 24-page booklet titled ‘3 Krishi Kanun-Kisano ke Maut ka farman’ in Hindi for the farmers. “We have been running a week-long campaign in areas of Bhind, Morena and Gwalior and visited major mandis of the region to create awareness. It was done with the help of loudspeakers and foot soldiers,” said Sharma.
“Since the farmers of the state are not as literate as (those from) Haryana and Punjab, we only tell them about the laws which have been passed in the Parliament. Each farmer with basic common sense opposed it,” he added.
BJP, Congress Promises
Eyeing the farmers’ votes ahead of bypolls for 28 seats, the Congress promised to bring back the farm loan waiver scheme, as part of which farm loans under Rs two lakh will be waived.
The party has also promised not to implement the three farm laws recently passed by the Union Government and that it would scrap the draft of Model Mandi Act, 2020, which was introduced by the BJP government in the state.
The Congress has also promised to enact strict laws against buying farm produce at minimum support price as in Punjab.
The BJP, which was on the back foot after the government accepted that the Congress had waive farm loans of 26 lakh people in the assembly, promised Rs 4,000 per annum to 77 lakh farmers in the state who have been enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
The BJP called the scheme the Mukhyamantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (MKSN).
N.K. Upadhyay, who is also associated with Rastriya Kisan Mazdur Mahasangh said: “We received an overwhelming response which may impact the bypolls.”
However, the RSS’s farmer front, the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, claimed that the farm laws will not affect the farmers. The organisation said it hadn’t found anything that would be of concern in the legislation.
BKS state president Rambharos Basotia said, “the new laws will not impact the farmers much. But if they find anything substantial, they will launch a protest irrespective of the government.”