Huge number of farmers set to march towards Delhi after talks fail


NEW DELHI: The Indian government and representatives of protesting farmers failed to reach an agreement over agricultural reforms, prompting growers to take out a march towards New Delhi on Tuesday (February 13).

The march comes just months before national elections in India, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely expected to win a third term.

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India’s millions of farmers form an influential voting bloc and ruling parties try to keep growers on their side.

The farmers have come out after a call by union leaders to demand higher support or guaranteed prices for their produce, and press the government to meet its promise to double farmers’ income.

Farm leaders said the government didn’t have a strong proposal during the meeting and would continue with the planned march towards the Indian capital.

“We thought that giving time (to government) is not suitable now. If there is a strong proposal, then we can think of giving time but they don’t have anything to offer,” Sarvan Singh Pandher, general secretary of Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said.

The government announces support prices for more than 20 crops each year to set a benchmark, but state agencies buy only rice and wheat at the support level, which benefits only about 6% of farmers who raise those two crops.

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In 2021, when Modi’s administration repealed the farm laws after the farmers protested, the government said it would set up a panel of growers and government officials to find ways to ensure support prices for all farm produce.

Farmers accuse the government of going slow that promise.

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