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Won Victory for Future but Struggle for Present Remains, say Farmer Leaders

The leaders are still apprehensive about the announcement and said they would wait for the beginning of the official process of withdrawing the laws through Parliament.
rajasthan farmers.

File Photo.

In an unprecedented victory for farmers protesting the three Central farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, in a televised national address, announced that the government would be repealing the contentious laws in the upcoming Winter session of Parliament.

Modi also announced that a government committee would be set up to discuss ways to ensure universal minimum support price (MSP). However, farmers’ leaders are still apprehensive about the announcement and said they would wait for the beginning of the official process of withdrawing the laws through Parliament.

Hannan Mollah, secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), told NewsClick that the farmers’ unions welcome the Centre’s decision. However, a final decision will be taken after all constituents of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) meet at the Singhu border.

”The farm laws ensured death for farmers in future. We had no option for non-payment against it. Please be mindful that the non-payment of fair and remunerative prices to farmers is ensuring death to them. Payment of MSP is critical to our survival. For now, we have won victory for future, but struggle for the present remains. How can we forget that 52 farmers who die by suicide every day? Four Lakh farmers have died by suicide in the past 20 years before the advent of these farm laws. So, ensuring a guaranteed income for farmers remains important for us,” he said.

Mollah added that Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government were directly culpable for the loss of about 700 lives in one year of the farmers’ struggle.

”We demand that the Prime Minister and the BJP government take responsibility for the loss of hundreds of lives due to their insensitive and obstinate position and apologise to the nation. This is the second defeat for the BJP Government led by Narendra Modi at the hands of the united Kisan movement. They were earlier forced to put on hold the Land Acquisition Ordinance in the wake of united protests led by farmers. The announcement of the Prime Minister is a big victory against the effort to corporatise agriculture and aggressively pursue neoliberal economic policies,” Mollah added.

When asked if there will be any reconsideration of Mission Uttar Pradesh and Mission Uttrakhand, announced by SKM, in light of the latest announcement, the AIKS leader said: ”The missions will continue in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand because there are a couple of issues that need to be resolved. Apart from MSP, we are also demanding reversal of the Electricity (Amendment) Act. It is a dangerous Act that seeks to hand over the electricity sector to big businesses. Until these issues are resolved, we will continue our struggle,” he added.

The farmers’ unions had called for campaigning against the ruling BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in UP and Uttarakhand after it had declined to accept their demands.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) and a veteran leader of SKM, said the PM himself accepted that the laws were unjust.

”We are happy that the decision came on Gurupurab, a day we all revere, but the farmers will wait for the official notification after the laws are repealed in both Houses of Parliament. Second, the farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been receiving a compromised MSP on select crops. However, the fight is to ensure a universal MSP for all farmers of India. We are also thankful to the people of India and abroad who highlighted the issues in their countries and built effective pressure on the government,” Rajewal said.

Rakesh Tikait, a core committee member of SKM, who was amidst the adivasis of Palghar in Maharashtra to attend a celebratory programme on Birsa Munda, said the farmers would not return empty-handed just with an announcement and if the government was serious about its intent, it should initiate the constitutional procedures to repeal the farm laws as soon as the Winter session begins.

”I am in that part of the country where MSP remains a distant dream. We cannot be in celebratory mode. We need to see the whole thing cautiously. I am going to Delhi to attend a meeting of SKM tomorrow, and we will announce action accordingly,” Tikait added.

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