‘Bhavantar Nahi, Bhav’: Mandsaur Farmers’ Plea for ‘Right Prices’
“Bhavantar nahi, bhav chahiye (We don’t want the difference in the price for our produce, we just want the right price),” a group of farmers told The Quint in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur.
Ahead of the Assembly polls in the state, farm crisis and agrarian distress remains a big poll issue, and this discontent among farmers in Mandsaur could dampen the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance.
The farmers in Mandsaur’s Mandi are angry with the government, and they say they don’t want compensation, insurance or loan waivers but the ‘right price’for their produce.
Panna Lal, a farmer, who had come to Mandsaur Mandi from Deori village, told The Quint:
Lal was referring to the Mandsaur farmer agitation in which at least six farmers were killed in police firing.
Another farmer, Paras Choudhary, who had come to the Mandi with his garlic produce prompted, “Pehle angrezo ne hume gulam banaya aur ab Shivraj kisano ko gulam bana raha hai (First the British enslaved us, and now Shivraj Singh Chouhan has made farmers slaves).”
‘It’s Time for Change’
Echoing the vehement opposition against the government within the farmers in Mandsaur, Anil Soni, another farmer from Nagri, said,“A common man doesn’t want to die like he died during the 2017 farmer agitation, but what do we do?”
“Ek taraf toh sarkar hume andata kehti hai aur dusti taraf juta marti hai (On one hand, the government says we feed everyone in the country, and on the other hand, they insult us like this),” Soni added.
“I think I will vote for the Congress because I think a change is needed,” Soni told The Quint.
Soni also spoke about the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana that was launched by the Madhya Pradesh state government after the 2017 farmer agitation to provide relief to farmers in case of a price difference between the minimum support price and the model price. He said, “We don’t want any such scheme, we only want the price of our produce.”
‘We Only Need Appropriate Price for Our Produce’
The farmers The Quint spoke to said none of the schemes of the government have helped them in any way.
“Earlier, we used to sell soyabean for Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 a quintal but now we get half of what we should be getting. Why does this happen?” Lal told The Quint.
A group of farmers in the Mandi said they are selling garlic for Rs 500-Rs 1,800, which they used to sell for Rs 4,000-10,000.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, in 2015, a total of 12,602 persons involved in the farming sector killed themselves. Of these, 8,007 were farmers/cultivators and 4,595 were agricultural labourers.
Of the 8,007 farmers, 581 came from Madhya Pradesh.
The data also reveals that major causes of suicide were reported as ‘Bankruptcy or Indebtedness’.
Lal also questions the central government’s claim of doubling the farm income by 2022 and says the government doesn’t do anything for the farmers unless it’s election season.
He also says all the political parties are using the Mandsaur agitation as a political tool.
“The government hasn’t done anything, nor has any other political party. They have only made the agitation a political issue for their benefit,” farmer Panna Lal told The Quint.
While there is anger and vocal opposition against the government, farmers say they will either vote for the Congress or NOTA, and if the Congress doesn’t perform well, they will show their strength in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP and the Congress have made aggressive promises to the farmers in their manifestos.
On one hand, the BJP has promised to ensure irrigation to every farmland and subsidy to farmers, while the Congress has promised to write off farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh.
However, the brewing unrest among the farmers of Mandsaur give a sense that the farmers might give a big jolt to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state election.