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Indian farmers to stage dharna in protest


Indian farmers to stage dharna in protest

Indian farmer dharna
Photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty

Sugar farmers in the Indian state of Bihar will stage a protest today pressing the government to raise the minimum support price of sugar cane.

The demonstration comes after months of agricultural unrest in response to recent legislation that farmers believe will undercut their livelihoods. Demanding immediate repeal, farmers from many of the northern states have hosted massive rallies in New Delhi and clashed periodically with police, culminating in the storming of the historic Red Fort after Republic Day celebrations on Tuesday. This dramatic escalation underscores the failure of the government’s negotiation with the agricultural interests, which only managed to postpone implementation of the farm laws with no lasting agreement.

Agrarian India constitutes a significant portion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition, so further concessions—such as a return to minimum support prices—from the government are not implausible. However, since the farmers have refused to accept any proposal short of repeal, this gesture might prove futile. Modi, a figure largely averse to compromise, is more likely to stay the course and continue the legislation’s rollout and allow Tuesday’s violence to turn public opinion against the protests.

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