Engage the Farmers

THE farmers’ protest has got some more international attention with global pop star Rihanna tweeting in their support. Similarly, environment activist Greta Thunberg has also extended her support. Other personalities who have spoken for farmers include the niece of US vice president Kamala Harris who, in a statement said that “the most populous democracy is under assault”. She also drew the attention towards contentious farm laws. This led to a heavy social media trolling of these celebrities and individuals. Also, ministry of external affairs has slammed foreign individuals and entities for comments on the farmer protests, saying it was “unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them.” In a detailed statement, the MEA stressed that the Parliament of India had passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector only after a “full debate and discussion”.

On the other hand, the farmers protest is only intensifying. The government’s attempt to delegitimise it following the violence on Republic Day hasn’t succeeded. The recent weeks have witnessed the rise of a new farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. Addressing a farmers’ mahapanchayat at Haryana’s Jind district on Wednesday Tikait asked the people to stand united and support the farmers’ cause. A large number of farmers riding in tractors, trolleys, and their personal vehicles had come to listen to him. Earlier speaking at Ghazipur border near Delhi, Tikait said that the farmers protesting against the three central farm laws will take out a pan-India tractor rally if the government doesn’t listen to them.

If anything it shows the protests are only going to gather further momentum in near future. With the farmers from Uttar Pradesh also joining the protest in a big way, pressure on the government is only going to increase. This has hardened the stand of farmers who are not ready to join fresh talks until the government removes the barricades on the borders put up recently to deter farmers’ entry into Delhi.

But the government, on the other hand, is showing no signs of backing down. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent Mann ki Baat speech reiterated the offer of suspending the farmer laws for one and a half year. Farmers, however, have rejected this offer and they want nothing short of the repeal of the laws. It remains to be seen how the government responds to the mounting protests. More so, with the protests drawing international attention and support. It would be great if the government shelves the laws and then engages farmers in a discussion on them to mobilize support for their enactment in future.

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