By Mrgya V
Can an assurance from the government change the picture?
Democracy is about the will of people and representation of that will. In a democracy, it is presumed that new laws and policies that are introduced shall have the consent of the people. This consent can be gained through voice of people themselves, where they ask for a specific policy or when the decision is taken by the representative then it ought to be explained to the people and their insecurities dealt with.
This is where the role of parliament becomes most important as it becomes the voice of people. Since the source of power in democracy are people, hence that gives the Parliament authority to question the government and right to control the public purse. This whole premise makes the discussions and debates a very important aspect of parliamentary democracy.
The recently passed three Farm Acts came in regulation without addressing the concerns of the opposition. They got passed on the brute force of the elected party, reducing democracy to majoritarianism. The non appliance of the standard processes and political space in the Parliament gives rise to lack of transparency which ultimately results in lack of trust towards the government.
These days, in Delhi, there is chaos on the road because the government has not been able to win the trust of farmers before introducing the three acts. Farmers are trying to make their voice reach the government. After working hard on their fields, now they have to spend their cold nights under the tarpaulin in their vehicles.
They are rallying because they think that these laws are detrimental for their own good. They are of the view that reforms will make them vulnerable for exploitation by big corporations, erode the bargaining power and weaken the Minimum Support Price system that offers cultivators assured price from the government.
The government’s stand on these laws is that this will provide them more options to sell their products. Government has neither officially nor unofficially announced the removal of the Minimum Support Price system. Nor has it announced not to buy the products of farmers through Food Corporation of India or any other government authorised agency. The farmers feel that this act will reduce them to the mercy of an industrialist or big corporates.
In this story, both the opposition and the party in the states of Punjab and Haryana played their part. The Punjab government, being in opposition to the central government, neither tried to assure them for their livelihood nor to give some other solutions but led them to Delhi’s doorsteps. Haryana, where BJP is in power and an agriculturist state, instead of helping them or solving their plight, blocked their way with the help of force of police, tear gas, lathi and water, so that the situation doesn’t get ugly in Delhi.
It’s not that the governments doesn’t know how to win trust. They know it very well because they apply it in every election to use farmers as vote banks. Then make promises of jobs, free vaccines for corona and loan waivers etc to win elections.
By not being empathetic and being too much confident of their hold on people, the Modi government finds itself in a spot today.
Reforms are not bad. These acts have elements of much needed positive reform for the agriculture sector. What is needed is that the insecurities of the farmers understood and dealt with not with force but by developing empathy and trust.