The opposition leaders on Tuesday mounted criticism at the government’s response to the farmers marching to New Delhi to pressure the government to demand guaranteed crop prices in a repeat of the 2021 protests. Police fired tear gas at hundreds of farmers who tried to break barricades at the Shambhu border near Ambala blocking their way to New Delhi.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the “brutal assault” on farmers and said the BJP-led central government’s failure to support farmers “exposes the illusion of ‘Viksit Bharat’.”
“Instead of suppressing their protest, BJP must focus on humbling their inflated egos, power-hungry ambitions, and inadequate governance that has harmed our nation,” Banerjee said in a post on X.
“Remember, it’s these farmers who sustain us all, including the high and mighty. Let’s stand in solidarity with our farmers against the government’s brutality,” she added.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also condemned the shelling of tear gas on protesting farmers at Delhi-Haryana border and questioned the much promoted ‘Amritkaal’, or the era of elixir, under BJP rule.
Speaking to reporters, Yadav said, “Using teargas, and placing nails and barricades (at the borders), everything is being done to prevent the farmers’ march. The (central) government wants to suppress farmers’ voices. These are the same people from (central) who promised to double the income of farmers, crop rate, and MSP implementation.”
Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary in-charge communications, highlighted the government’s contrasting decisions to confer Bharat Ratna on agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan and former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, a champion of farmers while doing “injustice to farmers.”
“Farmer organisations have 3-4 main demands. Their biggest demand is that the Swaminathan formula be implemented…MSP is not ‘Modi Selling Price’. MSP is ‘Minimum Support Price’,” he said.
Security in the national capital was tightened after farm unions from Punjab and Haryana marched towards Delhi a day after talks with ministers aimed at securing minimum prices for a range of crops failed.
The march is the latest in a series of similar protests which began more than two years ago and comes months ahead of national elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a rare third term, with farmers forming an influential voting bloc.