Farmers going on an indefinite strike sounded imaginary and unbelievable two months ago when it was announced by the farmers’ group from Puntamba village in Ahmednagar district. But the reality is that it happened - and an unprecedented one in which farmers’ agitations got a huge response in Maharashtra.
Farmers in India, or Maharashtra for that matter, are not united. There are many issues related to farmers and agriculture, but there are single leadership groups, which do not represent all the farmers. It is a scattered lot. Even today, there are many farmers’ unions but not one has a pan-Maharashtra or pan-India acceptance. Earlier, farmers’ leader Sharad Joshi got mass acceptance but that was also limited to some parts of Maharashtra.
Discussed by all
When the farmers went on strike this time, it brought common citizens’ attention to agriculture sector’s issues.
It was discussed by intellectuals and commoners - it directly affected households and businesses where there was a kitchen. Some people criticised the farmers for wasting or denying people the basic right of food - but the issues were at least brought into the limelight. This was one of the biggest achievements of this strike.
Impact on Government
The impact of the strike might not bear fruits immediately but has surely forced the State and Central governments to make budgetary provisions to remedy the issue of loan waiver and providing Minimum Support Price (MSP). It could force the government to make policies keeping the rural economy in mind in future. From last few years, the agriculture crises have deepened in Maharashtra. The farmers are not getting the prices for their crops. They are doing good production despite all odds - natural as well as man-made, but market conditions are not in favour of the farmers.
No ‘acche din’ yet?
When BJP was in opposition, they raised farmers’ expectations and assured to waive off their loans. They even created an image that they would bring good days for farmers.
But after completing three years in power, BJP has not able to fulfil their promises. When the government of a particular state (also ruled by BJP) waives off the farmers’ loans but the same is not done in other BJP-led states, can you blame the farmer for feeling cheated?