Crisis in the farming sector has intensified since the formation of Modi government. Indian agricultural sector has witnessed large scale farmer mobilisations in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka during the last year. The major demands of farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, are loan waivers and an increase in minimum support prices (MSP).
The massive agitations began in the wake of demonetisation drive and continued neglect from BJP led Centre and state governments. Centre claims that demonetisation has had little or no impact on rural and agrarian sector. Contradicting their claims, M S Swaminathan, father of green revolution, asserted, “in a purely cash economy, especially for farmers who deal with cash, there will certainly be an impact.” A recent study conducted by All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (AIMO) shows the adverse effect of demonetisation on the micro and small scale industries. They have suffered 35% jobs losses and 50% dip in revenue in the initial 34 days of demonetisation. The report shows a continued drop in employment of 60% and loss in revenue of 55% even till March 2017. According to the study, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the worst affected states. It doesn’t come as a surprise that intense farmers’ protests are being witnessed in the same states.
Reports show that the investment in agricultural sector declined from Rs. 2.84 trillion in 2013-14 to Rs. 2.63 trillion in 2015-16. The collapse in price of agricultural commodity prices since 2014 August has further distressed the farmers.
Even though the experts and studies say that demonetisation and BJP governments’ policies have contributed to the agrarian crisis, BJP leaders and ministers continue to deny it. Instead they accuse farmers for it. BJP leaders use rhetoric of ‘love failures’ and ‘marital problems’ as the reasons behind farmers’ suicide. Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhupedra Singh said farmers’ suicides are a result of family disputes and not because of debt in agriculture.
The left and some other opposition parties have showed their solidarity to the farmers. Communist party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to Modi urging him to introduce a bill that gives the farmers a right to sell their produce at minimum support price declared by the government. He says that the government should guarantee “automatic annual review of the MSP, which will be at least 50 per cent more than the comprehensive production costs as established by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices for that year”.