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Indian farmers hold a mass rally, keep up the pressure on Modi despite the fall

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LUCKNOW, India, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Filled with victory after Prime Minister Narendra Modi surrendered to demands for repeal of agricultural reform laws, Indian farmers held a mass rally Monday to demand minimum support prices be extended to all products, not just rice and wheat.

The protest movement launched by farmers more than a year ago became the most serious political challenge for the government and resulted in Modi making a surprise commitment on Friday to bring back reforms. Read more

Thousands gathered for the latest rally in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the Modi Bharatiya Janata Party will seek to retain power in the state elections to be held early next year. They turned their attention to minimum support prices (MSPs), which were a side issue in agricultural reform laws.

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“Our battle is only half won,” said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, a prominent farmer leader, in a speech to some 5,000 farmers waving the flags of various farmer and labor organizations.

Farmers shout slogans during a mass rally to demand that minimum support prices be extended to all crops, in Lucknow, India, November 22, 2021. REUTERS / Pawan Kumar

“Making sure the government makes a law on the EMP is a big issue for all of us,” he said. Our protests will end after the government passes the law on MSP.

Currently, the government mainly buys rice and wheat at minimum support prices or guaranteed prices, but the safety net barely benefits 6% of India’s millions of farmers.

In a letter to Mod on Sunday, the main farmers’ body said: “The Minimum Support Price, based on the overall cost of production, should become a legal right for all farmers (and) for all agricultural production …” .

Farmers also demanded in the letter that the federal government withdraw a electricity bill, which they fear would lead to the withdrawal of state governments of their right to free or subsidized energy, used primarily for irrigation.

Farmers have also asked the government to lift fines and other fines for burning fields after harvest to remove the stalk and hull. Smoke has become a major source of air pollution in Delhi and satellite cities bordering the northern states that are growing crops.

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Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Saurabh Sharma; Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Susan Fenton

Our standards: Principles of Trust by Thomson Reuters.

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