When Naresh Tikait, the national president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, reached the Ghazipur border to meet farmers agitating against the three farm laws on Tuesday, he was given a traditional welcome with drum beats. While talking to IANS, Tikait said, “If this is government remains, our land will not remain with us. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister should change their advisors and seek their opinion.”
Over the last three months, the dialogue between the government and the farmers has stopped, but the agitation refuses to die down. “It is our compulsion to sit-in protest. More than 200 people have sacrificed their lives. Our elderly have been sitting here in harsh winter. We will not allow all this to go waste.”
Why is there no dialogue between the government and the people any longer? In response to this question, Tikait said, “This is the responsibility of the government, it is in their hands. If they have made such a bill, why didn’t they do it after consulting farmers? What will happen if the farmer is on the verge of ruination?”
Tikait expressed concern over farmers losing their land, “We are trying to save our land. If this is the government, we will not have our land. What will we do then? The issue of contract farming is very dirty. Everything is in writing. The farmer will be ruined and become a pauper.”
What is the problem with amendments and the proposal of an 18-month moratorium? In response to this question, Tikait said, “We are saying that instead of 18 months they should repeal the law completely. If the guarantee on MSP becomes law, everything will be resolved.”
Will the farmers’ anger spill over in the elections to be held this year? “Absolutely. The government will have to do a lot to persuade those angry with it.”
Tikait sees this as a battle of self-esteem. Recently, farmers had to destroy their own crop. “This kind of a step is taken in a very difficult situation. It is a suicide-like step for a farmer to destroy something he has nurtured like a child,” says Tikait.
Tikait described Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as important and responsible people. “Both of them are running the government. We would say that a good advisor should advise them on agricultural law. However, if the defence minister has talks with farmers on behalf of the government, the issue can be resolved. He is a good person and will find a way out of the stalemate.”
11 rounds of talks held between the government and farmers ‘ organisations have not made any headway so far. Farmers have been protesting on the borders of the national capital since November 26 last year against three newly enacted farm laws.