Farmer Chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan

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On November 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of the three agricultural laws against which tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for more than a year at the Delhi borders. Opposition parties have since called the rare policy reversal of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party a aimed to improve its performance in the upcoming legislative elections in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. But Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who heads Delhi’s largest contingent of farmers at the borders under the banner of the Ekta Ugrahan faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the repeal would not help the BJP as its image is already tarnished. among state farmers.

“Whether it’s in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh or Uttarakhand, or even anywhere else in India, removing these laws does not mean the BJP will benefit,” he said. “We will ensure this and continue our popular debate on the anti-popular role of the BJP since it came to power in 2014, the role of the RSS since 1947 and also before the country’s independence. Speaking to Prabhjit Singh, a contributing writer for CaravanUgrahan said the withdrawal of the laws was only the first part of a long struggle for democracy in the country. He also spoke of the limited ability of opposition parties to oppose World Trade Organization mandates for the corporatization of agriculture – which the laws have come to represent – and the need to oppose to Modi’s other mandates, including Section 370 read-down, Citizenship (Amendment), and the National Registry of Citizens.

Prabhjit Singh: How do you assess the year-long struggle of the farmers’ unions at the Delhi borders?
Joginder Singh Ougrahan: There have been a lot of ups and downs as the Modi government was determined to undermine this farmer movement. But it gradually went from a movement of farmers to a popular movement. The government intended to crack down on us as it had previously held back the anti-CAA movement, by inciting community violence. [referring to riots in Delhi, in February 2020, that followed the protests]. They wanted to do the same here, by instigating a plot on January 26, by calling us separatist Sikhs. But we stayed united and focused. The Lakhimpur murders and then the murder of a poor man at the hands of a Nihang leader was also a plan of the BJP. We worked very hard to reach people and got massive support from across the country. We have lost nearly seven hundred lives of our farmers in this turmoil. But we never went off the rails and stayed focused.

Prabhjit: What do the protests mean for democracy in India?
Ougrahan: Democracy has evolved further and strengthened as a result of the protests. Those who were afraid to raise their voices in the past now realize the importance of democracy. This demonstration gave a new boost of courage to the people of this country.

Prabhjit: How do you see Modi’s role in managing agricultural laws and the protests that followed?
Ougrahan: Those who believe themselves to be greater than society in general will always fall. Modi had thought — Modi hai to mumkin hai [referring to a popular slogan which translates to “If Modi leads, anything is possible”]. But we have proven this to be wrong. He never said a word after the Lakhimpur murders. He did not say a word after images appeared in the newspapers where Chief Nihang who killed a man in Singhu was seen with [Union Minister Narendra] Tomar. Even the way Modi announced the repeal of the three laws was undemocratic. He neither discussed it in cabinet nor placed the debate in the public domain. And while we welcome the final announcement, I am simply emphasizing the undemocratic approach of the prime minister of the country.

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