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As farmers intensify protest, RSS, BJP farmer wings plan Kisan chaupals to allay fears

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New Delhi: Amid farmer unions intensifying their protest against the new farm laws, the farmer wings of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP are planning to organise a massive farmer outreach and kisan chaupals (open meetings) in different parts of the country to highlight the benefits of the Acts and assuage anxieties in the farming community.

While the BJP’s Kisan morcha is set to hold meetings in villages, RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh has asked all its units to “help farmers in procurement and payment” issues.

The Centre has agreed to make amendments to the laws, while refusing to repeal them altogether.

Rajkumar Chahar, a BJP MP and the president of the party’s Kisan Morcha, told ET that the kisan chaupals could begin as early as next week. “We were waiting for the talks between the government and farmers to be fruitful. Now, we will hold meetings in every village, where members of our party and other representatives from local areas will talk to farmers to clear the anxieties with respect to the laws. We want to highlight that this is a political protest and has nothing to do with farmers welfare,” he said.

“At the chaupals, we would want to tell the farmers to listen to the wise words of Chotu Ram that a farmer has to know who his friend is, and who his enemy is. We ran a month-long campaign earlier when the Bills were passed, and we will launch it again. We have asked farmers to send us voice notes and also write to us and to the PM. We want to tell them this reform measures will end the dominance of the lobby of mandi agents on the lives of farmers,” Chahar said. “If the mandis were benefitting the farmers in the last 60 years, the situation of the farmers would not have deteriorated,” he added.

Mohini Mohan Mishra, the All-India secretary of the BKS, which did not support the Bharat Bandh on Tuesday but has sought amendments to the Acts, said the outreach efforts of the union had already begun, as all its units had been told to help farmers with the implementation of the laws.

“Payment and procurement will be our focus areas, and we want to ensure the proper implementation of these Acts by the state governments and the agencies. It is the state government that should be talking to the Centre. In a month, the union will analyse feedback of the implementation of the laws, and look at ways to address the challenges. Our unit has been told to be active to ensure procurement, specifically of rice that is going on right now, is done without hassles,” he added.

“The feedback we got from Punjab was also different from other states. These are farmers with huge quantities of wheat. They sell their entire produce to mandis. The situation is not comparable with other states,” he said.

Fundamentally, while the BJP is showcasing success stories of contract farming, the BKS has made its opposition to it clear.

Contract farming is possible only for a few farmers, the ones who own lands and employ labourers on contract, Mishra said.

The union while welcoming the laws had insisted on some amendments which include a portal of registered traders, bank guarantee to secure payments and using the MSP as a benchmark in and out of the mandis.

Mishra said the union was also consulting the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

“We want to take the discussion from high yielding crops and food security to farmers’ welfare and ways to ensure non-cereal crops get more price so that farmers are discouraged from cereal production,” Mishra said.

Bhupender Chaudhary, a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union which is at the forefront of the ongoing protest, said no amount of outreach by the BJP or the RSS would convince the farmers of the benefits of the new farm laws.

“The farmers have spoken in one voice, and they don’t want to be left at the mercy of industrial corporates. The BJP knows we won’t stop unless the Acts are withdrawn,” he said.

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