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Farmers Decry Corporate Exploitation of Agriculture on Republic Day Through Tractor Parades

The participants of the parade also read a pledge to "intensify the struggle against the pro-corporate anti-farmer policies of the Modi Government and strengthen the secular and democratic character of the Republic of India, at any cost."
Tractor rally

Farmers' organisations across the country held tractor rallies on Republic Day to demand an end to the corporate loot of agriculture. The tractor rallies were organised following an appeal by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, where participants tied the flags of their organisations and the tricolour on the bonnet of their tractors and raised slogans like "Inquilab Zindabad" and "Give MSP to all farmers."

The leaders of the Morcha maintained that reports of rallies were received from 484 districts in 27 states and union territories, with massive cavalcades of tractors in Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, among other states. Apart from farmers, students, youth, and workers also participated in the celebrations.

The participants of the parade also read a pledge to "intensify the struggle against the pro-corporate anti-farmer policies of the Modi Government and strengthen the secular and democratic character of the Republic of India, at any cost."

The parade also acts as a prelude to the rural strike scheduled for 16th February by the Morcha, during which farmers' organisations have declared a comprehensive shutdown of mandis (grain markets) and other significant trading centres. Workers will join the strike through sectoral/industrial strikes, and there is expressed interest from students and women's organisations to participate as well.

Inderjit Singh, vice president, All India Kisan Sabha, who led the parade in Dadri, told NewsClick over the phone that the participation of common farmers in the parade surpassed the expectations of farmers' leaders. "This country saw a celebration of a different kind on January 22. However, the participation of farmers was reassuring that they still care for their livelihoods and the issues that are hurting us. There is a difference that we must acknowledge that the religiosity of people does not mean that they subscribe to fundamentalist politics."

In a statement, the Morcha said that the parade was part of the second phase of the farmers' struggle to press the Union Government to implement its written assurance dated December 9, 2021, and other essential demands of farmers, including legalising MSP@C2+50% with guaranteed procurement for all crops, comprehensive loan waiver for farmers and farm workers, stopping the privatisation of the electricity sector and installation of pre-paid meters, reducing the cost of inputs, ensuring government-controlled simple and universal crop insurance, dismissal, and prosecution of the main conspirator of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni.

The farmers' bodies have maintained that the Commission on Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), the central body responsible for announcing the minimum support price for acquiring food grains from farmers, has been employing the wrong methodology for calculating the input costs of seeds, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, diesel, and harvesting. While CACP has used the A2 + FL formula, the farmers have been asking for C2+ 50% for just returns on the produce. A2 covers major costs such as fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and diesel, among other costs, and FL implies unpaid family labour. C2 refers to comprehensive costs, which also cover rents and forgone interest on land apart from traditional costs.

The Morcha leaders asserted that the corporatisation of agriculture, leading to the agrarian crisis, has devastated the lives of farmers, workers, and the youth as well. More than 1,00,000 Indian farmers have died by suicide during the Modi years of 2014-2022. Though Rs 14.64 lakh crore of debt of corporates were written off in the last nine years, not a single rupee of farmers' debt has been waived. The withdrawal of subsidies for inputs and the uncontrolled price rise have escalated the cost of production in agriculture and the day-to-day expenditure of the farmer households.

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