With 2019 elections in mind, BJP to discuss farmers' unrest
With an eye on 2019 polls, the BJP plans to organize a mega brainstorming session in Delhi on October 12 to discuss increasing farmer distress and the high number of farmer protests in MP, Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said the meeting will be attended by agriculture ministers from the worst affected states and will include J&K.
Farmers have been protesting across the country demanding higher prices and loan waivers. TN farmers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar, carrying skulls of farmers who have committed suicide and have threatened to eat faeces. In MP and Maharashtra, protests turned violent and police resorted to firing for controlling the situation. UP, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka then waived Rs. 85,000cr of short-term crop loans.
Farmers are demanding that MS Swaminathan's 2006 report recommending the minimum support price, the price at which government purchases crops from farmers irrespective of the actual price, be fixed at 50% more than production cost. Modi had also promised reworking the MSP formula to deliver 50% profits to farmers. However, not fulfilling this and the consequent slowdown in farm earnings have increased farmer discontent.
DNA reports that as this is an "emergency meeting," agriculture ministers from Bihar, MP, Chattisgarh, UP, Uttarakhand among others will be attending the meeting. A meeting with representatives from all states will be organized later. BJP will be represented by national general secretary Muralidhar Rao and BJP Kisan Morcha chief Birendra Singh. Other Kisan Morcha representatives and some MPs have also been invited.
Steel minister Birender Singh told DNA the party is training 50,000 volunteers from the Kisan Morcha in government's flagship schemes for farmers so they can disseminate information at the district and mandal levels, thus connecting farmers directly to the government.
Meanwhile, Congress VP Rahul Gandhi criticized BJP. At Amethi, he asked BJP to make way for Congress if they can't deal with farmer-related issues. In Gujarat, Rahul said Congress will consider farm loan-waivers if voted to power. BJP retaliated that Congress' anti-farmer policies for decades were responsible for this farm distress. Resolving farmers' issues will be crucial if BJP wants to win 2019 elections.