BJP’s anti-farmer bills: Killing small farmers, aiding agri corporates

The Modi Government has pushed through three bills that would be the death knell of farmers, yet much of the media noise is about how the opposition did not maintain decorum in responding to the sanghi speaker’s undemocratic action of passing these bills without any discussion and through a voice vote.

Attention is being shifted away from how Modi is putting the lives of lakhs of farmers in jeopardy for his corporate friends Ambani and Adani, to whom he is selling everything from our airports to the control of agricultural markets. With the Government slowly vacating its role, the stage is set for big farm companies to take over and the end of mechanisms like Minimum Support Price (MSP) to ensure support for farmers. Even with the MSP and other mechanisms in place, we have been witnessing with alarming regulairity the images of farmers dumping truckloads of vegetables on the road, thanks to all the post-liberalisation anti-farmer policies. With MSP also gone, farmers will be left at the mercy of the big agri corporates.

As the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), which is leading the protests against the bills has noted, the corporates are trying to profit from the only sector which has shown some semblance of profit during the lockdown.

The amendment to the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) is another devious move. With this the government is giving up its own powers to regulate storage and hoarding of food commodities. Small farmers never hoard, but larger agri corporates do, and hence this move to remove all stock limits is meant to aid them in hoarding. This will again be to the disadvantage of small farmers, as the corporate farm companies will get the powers to control prices and hence the market.

The Central Government has yet again legislated on a subject which the State Governments are supposed to handle. Co-operative federalism now anyway survives only on paper, as the modi government has trampled upon every possible state subject, even taking away all the taxes and refusing to even honour the promise of GST compensation, even during this pandemic period.

In this case too, we can see clearly how the corporate media works against the interests of large sections of the population. Television channels in Delhi as well as in Kerala (barring a few exceptions) have not taken up such major changes in the country's farm laws for discussion, focussing all their energies on non-news and diversionary discussions. In Kerala, the Government which has formulated pro-people policies, which has ensured large scale investments in public education and heath, turned around loss-making PSUs into profit-making ones and has focussed on welfare measures from housing projects for the poor and the timely disbursal of welfare pensions at increased rates, is being targeted by this same corporate media relentlessly due to their own private interests.

These anti-farmer bills are the modi government's revenge against the farmees who dared to go on a long march challenging their anti-farmer policies in maharashtra. If the numbers were manageable they would have foisted cases under draconian acts like UAPA. Anti-farmer policies are a better, collective punishment, it seems. More long marches are bound to happen in reaction to these sales agents of the corporates who have managed to get control of the Parliament.