Farmers protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, demand loan waiver; Opposition looks to turn up heat in Parliament
The farmers demanded the Modi government fulfil its electoral promise of 50 percent profit above the production cost
Around 2,000 farmers protested in Delhi on Tuesday to condemn the "anti-farmer" policies of the BJP government and the killing of six farmers in Madhya Pradesh in June.
However, the ensuing protests took a political colour as a stormy Monsoon Session is underway, with the agrarian crisis being one of the issues the Opposition wants to use to corner the government.
The protesting farmers pressed for adequate remuneration for their produce and demanded a complete farm loan waiver. The Kisan Mukti Yatra, flagged off on 6 July at Mandsaur in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Madhya Pradesh, reached Jantar Mantar around 12 pm on Tuesday.
The 'Kisan Yatra' passed through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana before reaching the national capital. It was led by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti and Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav.
Shetty and Yadav reiterated their demands of loan waiver and remunerative prices saying the farmers were in distress.
"The government did not give Madhya Pradesh farmers a good price for their produce but instead fired bullets at them. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants farmers to just produce food grains. He thinks they are animals. Farmers will have to take revenge," Shetty said.
The protesting farmers were predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, separate farmers' protests were also held in Punjab and Rajasthan, where the protesters echoed similar sentiments and demanded loan waiver. Scores of Tamil Nadu farmers, who had grabbed eyeballs with their unique protest earlier this year, also resumed their agitation for loan waiver and drought-relief package in the capital.
The farmers demanded that the Modi government fulfill its electoral promise of 50 percent profit above the production cost and implementation of recommendations by the MS Swaminathan Committee.
Among the protesters were about 40 children of Maharashtra farmers who committed suicide in recent years. They made an appeal to the farmers to not commit suicide as it would only further add to their families' woes.
Social activist Medha Patkar, civil activist Prashant Bhushan, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, among others, sought farmers' unity to force the government to bring a legislation to ensure remunerative prices.
Yechury said he will raise issues of loan waiver and remunerative prices in the ongoing session of Parliament.
"We will talk about the loan waiver in Parliament. It is a right of farmers to get adequate price. The government will have to bring in a law," Yechury said.
Sawant said the Shiv Sena had always been supporting farmers and that it would raise their issues in Parliament.
Leaders from the Janata Dal-United and the Biju Janata Dal also joined the protesters.
Notably, the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, an umbrella body of 62 farmers' organisations, stayed away from the yatra, calling it "politically motivated".
The Centre, meanwhile, asked states to chalk out relevant plans to achieve the goal of doubling farmers' income by 2022, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.
The average monthly income per agricultural household from various sources is estimated to be Rs 6,426, according to the survey done by the National Sample Survey Office in 2013.
Replying to queries raised on farmers' income, minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala said a road map has been outlined by the NITI Aayog for farm sector reforms and doubling farmers' income by 2022.
With inputs from agencies
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