For a year, the farmers sitting on different borders of Delhi in protest against the three disputed agricultural laws have announced to suspend their agitation for the time being.
The Central Government has given them a written assurance on their five demands.
The United Kisan Morcha says that every month from January next year, the promises made by the government and the progress made in that direction will be reviewed.
Farmer leader Yogendra Yadav shared the decision of the United Kisan Morcha with the media and said, “Farmers have regained their lost self-esteem, farmers have created unity, farmers have realized their political power.”
Farmer leader Balbir Rajewal said, “The egoists are going to bow down to the government. But this is not the end of the front. We have postponed it. There will be a meeting of the United Kisan Morcha again on January 15, in which we will review the movement.”
It is clear from both the statements that the farmer leaders realize that this movement forced the government to bow down to the farmers. This is the goal of his movement.
However, the farmer leaders also claim that they have lost 700 farmers in this movement.
But in the meantime, the most pressing question is that the law, which the BJP government at the Center was telling so far in the interest of the farmers, has been withdrawn, it has also compromised on the remaining five demands of the farmers. Then what has BJP achieved in this one year?
- What has BJP found?
In the past, many arguments have been presented by the BJP for not withdrawing the agriculture law.
BJP leaders from different forums sometimes linked these laws to doubling farmers’ income, sometimes termed its opposition as a political protest of the opposition, and sometimes called it only the farmers’ movement of Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh.
But after the manner in which the laws were withdrawn, the BJP leaders in Punjab seem quite happy.
Speaking to BBC Hindi, Punjab BJP spokesperson Subhash Sharma said, “The way the farmers’ movement has ended, it is pleasant in itself. Earlier farmers’ agitations ended with bullets or by putting farmers in jail. Has been done.”
“Our government ended this movement by accepting the demands of the farmers. This is the first time this has happened. There was nothing to be gained or lost in this movement. Whatever he had done, he did it after thinking in the interest of the farmers and will work in their interest in future also.
Subhash Sharma says, “There was some resentment, bitterness among the farmers about us earlier. But the way in which the Prime Minister withdrew the bill, it got away. The government is moving in the direction of resolving, due to which the anger of the farmers has ended. Now the farmers will soon understand that BJP is the only party which wants their interest. It will happen.”
However, senior journalist Aditi Phadnis does not seem to agree with Subhash Sharma’s argument.
She says, at least farmers do not accept this logic of BJP. One thing of the movement which has proved to be good for BJP is that the party has realized its limitations.
Elaborating her point, Aditi says, “Suppose you go to the market to sell your house and you don’t know what the real cost of the house is. In such a situation, if you sell the house in a hurry and later find out that The price was a little more. So you think, I have lost. But one thing that was good in this whole exercise is that you came to know the real cost of the house. Something similar in this movement with BJP also. Has happened.”
BJP has now become aware of its limitations due to the movement. It is only when one gets an idea of one’s limitations that what further amendments are needed.”
On the other hand, senior journalist Purnima Joshi says, “What the BJP has gained from the movement, it should be seen in the context of what they had to lose.”
There is a lot of anger among the farmers about farming. Agricultural law was only an issue. The problem of sugarcane farmers in western Uttar Pradesh still persists.
They are not getting any benefit by increasing the support price of sugarcane by Rs 25. Their input cost has gone up considerably compared to that. If you go from Agra to the Safai belt, potato farmers are crying there.
The prices of fertilizers have gone up so much. He has bought a sack of fertilizer sold for Rs. 1200 per bag for Rs. 1700-1800. All these things together were preparing the ground for the movement. The longer the farmers’ movement lasted, the more the BJP would have suffered. With the movement ending in a year, the BJP saved a little of what it could have lost.
This is what BJP has achieved in a year in the name of getting it.
- loss to BJP
Talking about the loss, it can be divided into two categories. Economic loss and political loss.
Some figures of economic loss have been presented by the government itself in the Parliament.
How good are the disputed agricultural laws – The central government had spent Rs 7 crore 25 lakh till February this year for its promotion among the public. Apart from this, the Farmers Welfare Department of the Ministry of Agriculture has also spent Rs 67 lakh in making three promotional videos and two educational videos. That is, about 8 crore rupees have been spent by the central government in the promotion of the new agricultural law.
Apart from this, in many places, farmers sat on dharna at toll plazas for months. During the budget session, the Road Transport Minister in the Central Government told the Lok Sabha that due to the farmers’ agitation, the fee is not being deposited at many toll plazas. Due to this, a loss of Rs 1.8 crore is being made daily. Till February 11, the loss of about 150 crores was done only from toll plazas.
Similarly, in many areas, farmers had also disrupted rail traffic at different times. By the end of last year, the Railway Ministry had suffered a loss of 2400 crores due to the farmers’ agitation.
Apart from this, experts related to the agriculture sector tell that to persuade the farmers on the new law, the central government also bought more wheat and rice this year, which was not needed. Some experts consider this as a loss to the central government’s treasury.
But more politically than the economic loss, what the BJP has lost in a year is being discussed more.
In this one year, the Akali Dal, the oldest friend of the NDA, left him in protest against the new agricultural law. Till now both the parties used to contest elections together in Punjab. According to political analysts, the hold of the BJP in a state like Punjab has become more loose due to this law.
Senior journalist Aditi says, “The big thing that the BJP has lost is its credibility and trust among farmers. Now farmers are feeling that when the law was to be withdrawn, why were they treated like this for a year. People lost their lives. Crops were damaged. Stay away from home and family.”
Aditi says that the manner in which the law was withdrawn has also damaged Modi’s ‘liberal image’. She argues that the government withdrew the laws but did not guarantee the MSP.
Now along with MSP, people will also come forward on other issues related to everyday like inflation, price of cooking oil and rising prices of petrol. Then a different political climate will be created for BJP. Which may make the situation worse.
On the other hand, senior journalist Purnima Joshi says, “The manner in which these bills were brought and passed in Parliament and the government stuck to it for a year – this is the biggest political mistake of the BJP and Prime Minister Modi.”
“This shows that neither the BJP assessed the situation properly, nor did they know the power of the farmers. After a year, because of this, he had to surrender completely in front of the farmers. This has done a lot of damage to Prime Minister Modi’s image of ‘strong intentions’.”
Some experts attribute the BJP’s defeat in the West Bengal elections and the BJP’s poor performance in the recent by-elections in some states as a loss due to the farmers’ agitation.
But the real test is next year’s Uttar Pradesh and Punjab assembly elections, which will show whether the BJP was really able to do the predicted ‘damage control’ in these elections?