NEWS
30/11/2018 10:47 AM IST | Updated 30/11/2018 10:47 AM IST

Farmers’ March: Many Protesters Have Come To Delhi To Tell PM Modi His Policies Are ‘Wrong’

With just months left for the general election, the anger and resentment of thousands of farmers may be a big concern for the BJP and its leaders.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Farmers participating in the march rest in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI—At Ramlila Maidan on Thursday night, Santosh Beharia, Manmujan Pradhan and 20 other farmers from Odisha, who had travelled 31 hours to participate in the Dilli Chalo protest, were feeling a bit left out.

Like the other protesters, they also wanted their demands to be met, but the sight of groups after groups of farmers shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hard to take.

"I felt like going back when I could not take the slogans anymore but I have travelled for 31 hours and I don't want to waste that effort, which is why I am staying here," Pradhan said.

READ: 'We're Fools To Have Believed Modi': Voices From The 'Dilli Chalo' March

This group was among the handful of protesters marching to Parliament on Friday who don't blame Modi in particular for the agrarian crisis.

Beharia says he supports Modi but doesn't agree with some of his decisions.

"The Swaminathan Commission's report should have been implemented. It would have helped the farmers," he said, but he blamed the agrarian crisis in Odisha to four years of drought and not the Modi government.

However, he also concedes that he is not able to earn any profit on the paddy he sows on his five acres.

PHOTOS: Farmers From Across The Country March To Ramlila Maidan

The protesters, who are marching under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), are demanding debt relief, remunerative prices for their produce and a special session of Parliament to address agrarian issues, among other things.

Sabrita, Jayadevi and Anita, farm labourers from Uttar Pradesh, however, hold the Modi government responsible for the aggravated crisis in the rural economy and not just agriculture.

"The pay rate of MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) has been reduced. We are somehow surviving on ration but even that is becoming difficult as the price of every item is increasing," claimed Sabrita.

"Even kerosene is costly now. Maybe after a few days, we will have to buy water. We voted for him last time but we won't do it this time," said Anita, who belongs to Varanasi, Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.

READ: Farmers Are Moving From Suicide To Active Protests, This Is A Historic Beginning, Says P. Sainath

The anger at the Prime Minister seems to stem from the non-fulfilment of his 2014 election promise on minimum support prices. During the run-up to the last general election, Modi had promised to calculate minimum support prices according to a new formula that took into account the entire cost of production and 50% profit.

While the BJP claims they have kept this promise, many analysts have disputed this.

The price rise of essential commodities such as LPG is another area of resentment.

Baran Karrimulla, who runs a tiffin service in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, said she came to Delhi to tell the Prime Minister that his policies are wrong.

"Cylinder (LPG) prices have increased. Our kids are not getting jobs. Modi came and ruined everything. He has not done anything for people. We are going to teach him a lesson in the coming elections. Look at the price rise. Did you see such rates of cylinder earlier?" she asked.

Aniyan, a CITU leader who is one of the organisers of this march, said the anger is directed at the PM because of his penchant for centralisation and projecting himself as the sole leader.

Vijoo Krishnan, the joint secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, claimed that the PM's image has seen a drastic change in the past four years.

"Four years back it was only Modi-Modi everywhere. Now people are saying 'Kisan Virodhi-Bhajapa Modi' (BJP and Modi are anti-farmers)," Krishnan said.

More than 10,000 farmers reached New Delhi on Thursday and many more are joining the march to Parliament.

It's not clear yet if the government will agree to the farmers' demands, but one thing is certain. With just months left for the general election, the streets of New Delhi will witness some fierce criticism of the prime minister and his government as the farmers try to make their way to Parliament.