We farmers feel very strongly about the consent clause in the Land Acquisition Bill, but it is doubtful if these amendments will unite farmers in agitation. Land acquisition is a topic resonating in Lutyen’s Delhi and on media channels, while farmers elsewhere have more immediate pressing worries.

It’s been a tough year; after selling their last crop at depressed commodity prices, farmers were compelled to buy urea at 40% premium on the printed MRP in the sowing season.

“Before the new crop could be harvested, they are being hammered by a spate of unseasonal rain and hail damaging crops.”

Present worries on the farm will always take precedence over future probabilities like acquisition & environment. Additionally, 50% of India lives in cities and really does not care about land acquisitions. The rest who live in villages mostly feel that their land is not even remotely under threat of acquisition because of their land’s commercial locational disadvantages.

Before the last parliamentary elections, Bharat Krishak Samaj commissioned the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) to conduct a study on farmer perceptions. On the issue of land acquisition among those who had heard about the scheme, 21% said that they had benefitted from this law while 57% of the respondents said that they were losing out because of the law.

All the while UPA 2 showcased the Land Acquisition Bill as a success story, but the farmers perceived it differently and it became another reason to be voted out of power. BJP and the Congress are both enchanted by the wrong set of people. The Congress position continues to be influenced by leaders and intellectuals far removed from the ground reality, while the BJP listens to the industry more than it should.

Opportunistic new political entities wanting to reap an electoral harvest have already jumped on the bullock cart. Politicians who have never farmed and want to exploit the farmer’s plight for political dividend is the reason why we will fail. Have we really turned a corner in Indian agriculture with the Land Acquisition Bill?
The din created by the media would suggest so but for the most part it is politics resuming its natural course. I hope it would have been different.

When the UPA forced SEZs down our throat it was supposed to be the game-changer that would spur development and create jobs. It is no more than a bad memory which still hurts. The biggest beneficiaries of land acquisition in the past have been various state governments like Haryana and UP. Not private enterprises as commonly perceived.
The trust deficit has increased to such an extent that farmers don’t trust the agitating political parties on the issue any more, to the relief of the BJP.

“For the BJP it will be numbers in the Rajya Sabha that will force them to amend their amendments not protests.”

Restlessness on the farms is increasing, but it is not ripe enough to explode just yet.