Saturday, July 20, 2024

Farmers resume Delhi March over price dispute

Indian farmers vow to intensify protests after talks fail again | Protests  News | Al Jazeera

New Delhi:In an ongoing standoff between Indian farmers and the government, protesters are set to resume their march towards the capital city, Delhi, after rejecting a government proposal aimed at addressing their concerns over crop prices. The farmers, who initiated their march last week but were halted approximately 200 km from Delhi, have been engaged in talks with government officials to negotiate their demands.

On Monday night, farmer leaders announced their decision to resume the march, citing dissatisfaction with the government’s offer, which included purchasing certain crops at assured prices through cooperatives over a five-year contract. The farmers, however, remain steadfast in their demand for a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all 23 crops.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal, a prominent farm union leader, appealed to the government to either resolve their issues or allow them to proceed peacefully to Delhi by removing barricades. The timing of these protests is crucial, as farmers form a significant voting bloc in India, and the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is seeking a third consecutive term in the upcoming general elections this year.

Tensions escalated last week when authorities clashed with protesters, utilizing tear gas and plastic bullets to halt the march. The farmers’ grievances extend beyond crop prices, encompassing unmet promises from the 2020-21 protests, as well as demands for pensions, a debt waiver, and, notably, a law guaranteeing support prices for crops.

The Minimum Support Price (MSP) system, introduced in the 1960s for wheat and later expanded to other essential crops, is viewed by supporters as crucial for shielding farmers from market fluctuations and ensuring income stability. Critics argue for a comprehensive overhaul, expressing concerns about the sustainability of the current system and its potential impact on government finances, including the risk of over-cultivation and storage issues.

Farmers' protest: Protesters to resume Delhi march over crop prices

Despite four rounds of talks between federal minister Piyush Goyal and farmer representatives, discontent among the leaders persists. Goyal, after Sunday’s discussions, described the talks as “positive” and hinted at an “out-of-the-box” solution to benefit farmers, consumers, and the economy. However, on Monday, farmer leaders voiced their dissatisfaction, highlighting concerns about the lack of transparency in the negotiation process.

As the nation watches these developments closely, the resumption of the farmers’ march and the government’s response remain pivotal in shaping the trajectory of this ongoing protest.

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