IT is a cause for concern that the talks between the farmer organisations and the Central Government have remained inconclusive. The Centre has tried unsuccessfully to convince the farmers that the farm legislations are in their interest. It also sought to allay apprehensions over the MSP and the mandi system on which depends the livelihood of millions. While it announced that the MSP was there this season, the roadmap for the future needs to be spelt out clearly. Besides the farmers, the views of agricultural experts should be sought to find a sustainable way out of the impasse. The trust deficit, demonstrated by the Punjab Government’s decision to pass parallel legislations to counter the Centre’s laws, needs to be bridged.
The farmers have been insisting on letting only the goods trains ply. The goods trains helped in transporting essentials during the lockdown and blocking them not just hurts the state economically, but the country as a whole. Already, supplies to the Army are getting affected amid the onset of winter. The resumption of passenger trains should be a countrywide decision and not specific to Punjab, keeping in view the fact that train services are yet to be resumed fully. To add to this is the fear of another Covid wave.
With the elections in Punjab due in early 2022, the standoff may have a bearing on the performance of the political parties. Both the SAD and the Congress have taken a firm stand on the Centre’s farm laws by opposing them, but the prolonged crisis may aggravate the state’s problems. The Bihar results might have been encouraging for the BJP, but it will need to tread with guarded realism in Punjab. The BJP is looking at the rupture of its alliance with the SAD as a grand opportunity to contest all Assembly seats, opening offices and expanding its footprint all across the state. Beyond an electoral alliance, the SAD-BJP tie-up was a social coalition and an ugly break-up should not hurt farmers’ interests and the state’s well-being.