Modi Govt Has Failed Farmers, Says Leader of RSS-Affiliated Union
The national vice president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, RSS-affiliated farmer union, Prabhakar Kelkar tells News18’s Eram Agha that farmers are being forced to sell crops at a loss, leading to massive anger.
A farmer working in his sugarcane field. (Image for representation/Reuters)
New Delhi: The national vice president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, RSS-affiliated farmer union, Prabhakar Kelkar tells News18’s Eram Agha that farmers are being forced to sell crops at a loss, leading to massive anger.
Hitting out at Centre for not addressing farmers’ problems, Kelkar said demonetisation had hit farmers hard as they were totally dependent on cash. Slamming the recent notification by environment ministry to ban sale of cattle at marketplaces for slaughtering, he said now the burden of useless cattle is on farmers.
Farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur has led to six deaths. Did you see this coming?
I can’t deny that the farmers are angry and I did see this coming. What you are seeing is the anger of just a small fraction of farmers. In the past three years, nothing has been done for them, but the Modi government is making profits. In last crop year, there was low production. This crop year has seen good production but extremely low pricing for it. All the important crops are being sold at a loss. The government made conditions suitable for production, but forgot the pricing bit. Farmers toiled day and night, but are now selling crops at loss. Add to this the rigidity of the society. They don’t want to pay a penny extra to farmers.
Demonetisation hit them too. Farmers need money, cashless doesn’t work for them. It’s about time the government thinks of a roadmap to help the farmers in distress.
How would you take this agitation forward?
The protests have taken a violent turn. We will wait for things to subside and channelize the anger in a constructive way. We will try convincing the government by working with various committees. We will chart out plans for andolan. I am, however, scared that the movement might take a Patidar turn because the farmers who have died belong to that community. They are well spread in the country. The face of Patidars movement in the past, Hardik Patel, has said that he will join the farmers, and that is expected because during Patels’ agitation, farmers from Madhya Pradesh had joined him. Any protest from now onwards has the potential of turning into a Patidar movement. That will be damaging.
The Environment Ministry recently banned sale of cattle from marketplaces for the purpose of culling. What are your views on the notification?
I think this notification was passed by the government in a hurry. The government should have ideally first put it in public domain, taken suggestions and then gone ahead. Now, the burden of useless cattle is on the farmer. If the farmer leaves his cattle in the forest, the officials will accuse him of destroying the forest.
In the name of development, the government has put so many restrictions that nobody can do anything. I am not talking about cows, but the government should have spared rest of the cattle. But sadly, in all these cases, we are considered idiots and our voices are not heard.
Apart from pricing, what are the big problems before Indian farmers?
Nothing has been done to improve storage — good production meets bad storage. Farmers have to travel long distances to sell their produce. Storage is an important part of agriculture. Also, cashless methods don’t work for us. Government must make sure farmers get cash.
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