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Agriculture

Interview | 'No Politics Involved in Farmers Protests': Rajasthan AIKS Leader Amra Ram

"The government says it wants to eliminate middlemen in selling farm produce, then why make way for capitalists like Ambani and Adani?" the farmers' leader said.

Jaipur: To extend support to the farmers’ stir in Delhi, farmers from Rajasthan are staging protests at Jaisinghpur Khera, near Shahjahanpur in Alwar district, at the Rajasthan-Haryana border, under the leadership of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

Kisan Mahapanchayat and Kisan Sangharsh Samiti are among several farmers’ groups actively participating in the protests in Rajasthan. Protestors, mostly farmers across the state, have blocked roads, tolls, and burnt effigies of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to register their opposition against the farm laws.

Farmers in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar district have marched to the Punjab border. Demonstrations have also been seen in Bikaner, Nagaur, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Hanumangarh and Barmer districts.

The Wire spoke to AIKS vice president, and former MLA from Sikar in Rajasthan, Amra Ram about the ongoing protests in the state and their key demands.

How are Rajasthan farmers contributing to the nationwide protests against the central farm laws?

Rajasthan farmers’ protests are part of the farmers’ movement in the country, against the three farm laws of the Centre. In addition, we want to call out the lies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over minimum support price.

He says that farmers can sell their produce anywhere but despite this assurance, the Khattar government didn’t allow any farmer from Rajasthan to sell their bajra in Haryana.

The condition is such that bajra in Rajasthan was sold at Rs 1,000, below the minimum support price (MSP). The same happened with maize, mostly produced in the tribal belt of Rajasthan.

Also read: Rajasthan’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party Quits BJP-Led NDA Over Farm Laws

The government says that it wants to eliminate the middlemen and enable the farmers to sell their produce to the consumers directly. Then, why is it making way for the capitalists like Adani and Ambani? Our protests are against this farce.

Farmers protest against the farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, December 4, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis

Are the protestors in Rajasthan coming over from a certain part of the state or across the state?

Farmers from all over Rajasthan have joined the protests. In fact, a large number of migrant workers too are part of the protests.

Many farmers’ organisations, including the All India Kisan Sabha, Kisan Mahasabha, and a Ganaganagar-based Kisan Sabha, are jointly working to make this movement successful.

We have received massive support from the locals in making arrangements for the protestors in this biting cold.

Can we say that these protests are being led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)?

No, I am leading the protest as a member of the All India Kisan Sabha, not as a member of CPI(M). This is a movement to raise farmers’ legitimate demands, not a political statement of any sort.

Also read: A Month on, Farmers Remain Resolute Over Repeal of Farm Laws

How do you look at the protest led by Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s supremo Hanuman Beniwal in support of the farmers?

They had staged a rally near our protest site a few days ago, but it was entirely a political gathering. Two Congress MLAs also came here, and we didn’t stop them too. See, if someone comes here, how can we say no?

However, their rallies and our protest are entirely different. We don’t have any political interest involved.

What is your opinion on the farm bill brought by the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan to mitigate the effects of the Central laws?

The Rajasthan Bill hasn’t yet received the governor’s assent, so we don’t know if that would make any difference.  But as far as I know, the Bill provides that anyone who purchases farm produce below the MSP would be punished. This is in the interest of the farmers. So, we support it.

What is your plan ahead?

The Centre has called the farmers’ leaders for negotiations on Wednesday at 2 pm. If they agree to our demands, then we will call off the protests, but that is highly unlikely to happen. If the talks fail, we are planning to march to Delhi on New Year’s Eve.