Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Jul 2018 12:18:22

THERE should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the current agitation in Maharashtra in which countless thousands of liters of milk is being flown onto roads as a mark of protest against the so-called refusal of the Government to raise procurement price, has an anti-social tinge plus a political overtone. Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. Devendra Fadnavis has said unequivocally that the Government does not mind hiking procurement price so that the farmers and milk-producers get their due. Yet, he has disapproved strongly the action of throwing precious milk onto roads. He has insisted that all problems could be solved through negotiations and sitting together with the stated purpose of sorting out the issues rather than complicating those. Nobody can question the Chief Minister’s intentions and willingness to have open-ended talks. 

The agitation is, of course, not restricted only to Maharashtra, as farmers have been agitating all over the country in lesser or greater degree for quite some time now. Yet, those who have studied the history of farmers’ agitation, agree that the current agitation is purely political in nature, which, too, used to be the case even in the past.
There were really, really few leaders who gave a patient thought and a quiet contemplation to the farmers’ issues. The milk agitation now stands added to the long list of listless agitations in the name of farmers, only to have some of the points on somebody’s political agenda ticked off.

What a misfortune of the farmers! There is little doubt about the need to hike procurement price. There is also an agreement on the issue of raising the minimum support prices for various farm produces. And only because the Government recognises this, it has stepped up the minimum support prices (MSPs) of various summer crops. In due course, the Government is slated to apply the principle to all farm produces across the country. Despite this reality, the politically-driven elements are pushing the farmers into agitational mode without any justification whatsoever. It is the nation’s misfortune that the political community has often treated farmers as a tool in their politics. Not only do they push farmers into wrong lanes of protests but also ensure that no proper justice is made. This may sound a hard allegation, but nobody can deny the truth in it. Barring a few, most political parties are not in favour of solving the farmers’ problems because that would mean removal of a potent constituency from their overall game-plan.

If this is not anti-social, then what else is? When the leaders push farmers to throw their produces onto roads, and even flow the milk onto roads and spoil it, then there is only one conclusion -- that the farmers are being misled into wrong acts by some anti-social elements of the political community. This must be brought to end at any cost, and at the earliest. If this is not done, then the farmers’ agitation will lose its sting and will be treated like any other, politically-driven agitation, and the people in general will lose respect for their cause. We have stated time and again that the country’s chronic agrarian crisis cannot be resolved by agitations and political machinations. It will need a massive effort as part of the national agenda. That effort will have to be guided to resolving the complex issues afflicting rural economy of which agriculture is one integral part. Farmers’ suicides also take place because the bigger issue has not been addressed so far despite passage of so many years. When the Government is showing a distinct awareness of the overall crisis, it would be pertinent for the farmers not to fall prey to political games and indulge in senseless agitations. Their restraint will be their best statement. For, then they would be making a concrete contribution to a peaceful internal discourse.