‘Main Election Issue’: Karnataka Farmers To Protest Before Assembly Session

Farmers' agitation could present a major challenge for the BJP, who are trying to make inroads in south Karnataka.

Hindi Female

With elections due in two months, farmers' organisations in Karnataka are set to revive an agitation against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state.

Who is protesting? The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and Hasiru Sene have decided to relaunch a protest and have called a meeting of their state committee on Tuesday, 31 January, to chart out the agitation plan.

Why are farmers protesting? The Karnataka government, through a bill in the legislature, had amended the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act in 2020 to allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere – at or outside APMCs. This was in line with the Centre's three farm laws, which had led to a massive agitation near Delhi's borders.

What have farmers said? KRRS state president, Kodihallu Chandrashekhar, said, “The amendments effected to agriculture-related laws in Karnataka are not just draconian, but also a deterrent to the growth of the farm sector…We are determined to have them repealed. We will organize a uunified fight of farmers so that this will become one of the main election issues,” The Times of India reported.


The U-turn: After the Central government repealed its three farmer laws in view of the massive agitation, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had stated that his government will also withdraw the amendment. This promise however was not fulfilled.

What are farmers demanding? Stating that farmers will only support parties that will rollback "anti-farmer amendments," farmers are also demanding the withdrawal of the controversial Anti-cow Slaughter Act, and the Karnataka Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, which allows non-agriculturalists to purchase agricultural land. 

What has the opposition said? “We have been opposing these laws right from the beginning. The government had gone back on its word that it would repeal them. We will back farmers who are planning to fight against these laws,” Congress state chief DK Shivkumar was quoted as saying.

Political impact: This agitation could present a major challenge for the BJP, who are trying to make inroads into the Vokkaliga heartland in south Karnataka. The BJP is also not ready to agree to the farmers' demands. “We have decided to reach out to farmers and convince them about the advantages of the farm laws. We will counter propaganda during the election campaign,” said Eranna Karadi, president, BJP state Kisan Morcha.

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