Mudda discusses the plight of farmers and the snowballing protests across the country

The farmers’ protest in Madhya Pradesh, ongoing since June 1, took a tragic turn when five farmers were killed in police firing. After initially denying it, Home Minister Bhupendra Singh confirmed that the deaths in Mandsaur were caused by police firing. Two top district officials were suspended after the incident. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi was detained after he reportedly defied police barricades to enter Madhya Pradesh to meet the families of the farmers. Thousands of drought-hit farmers have been agitating, demanding that authorities increase the minimum price for their crops and waive their bank loans.

Thursday’s edition of Mudda, the daily current affairs talk show of APN, flagged the issue. Moderated by Himanshu Dixit, the guests were farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait, BJP spokesperson Shalabh Mani Tripathi, Congress spokesperson Hilal Naqvi, RLD spokesperson Anil Dubey, farmers’ leader from Mumbai Vivekanand Shankar Patil and APN Consulting Editor Govind Pant Raju.

Tikait said: “According to the government, four lakh farmers committed suicide. But the actual number is 20 lakh—as the family members also often commit suicide after the famer’s death. False promises are made in the election manifesto but they are never the priority of any government.”

He also raised another issue: farmers pay a rate of interest of 20% which is too high.

Tripathi defended the government and said work has begun for farmers’ welfare. He further said: “We have to identify the fringe elements that are spreading violent propaganda in the name of ‘farmers’ protest’. The accusation that the BJP government is doing nothing is false. When the strike started we met with them and agreed on two dozen demands out of their three dozen demands. We said the rest of the demands needed to be discussed before we promised anything. While talks were on, the protests became violent. Also, since the Yogi Adityanath government came in, 30 lakh metric tonnes of wheat have been bought by the government compared to only seven lakh metric tonnes bought in 2016. So, steps are being taken to better the situation.”

Naqvi, on the other hand, blamed the BJP government for the dire situation of the farmers. He said that in every BJP-ruled state, farmers are suffering and protesting. Their voices are being stifled by the government.

Patil said: “They said they will waive the loans but they are talking only about small debt farmers. What about those with huge debts? The produce is equal. The government should include those farmers too in their talks.”

Raju concluded that the issue was a small one but had been delayed for so long that now it was not possible to furnish a single solution for it. “A solution is required which involves every government and every party in it. Only waiving loans won’t work. They are aggrieved about numerous spheres in life. Their produce doesn’t get the required profit from the market. The milk price is stagnant for many years. No implementation of any of the schemes made for farmers’ development can be seen.”