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Farmer protest 2.0: What are five distinctions between the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march and the 2020 farmers’ protest?

Today’s farmers’ protest sees over 200 farmer unions rallying for the Delhi Chalo movement, with preventive measures implemented to prevent them from reaching Delhi, a contrast to the situation in 2020.

Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh farmers take to the street — in 2024 — with more than 200 farmer unions heading to Delhi on Tuesday after the last round of talks between the farmer leaders and the Union ministers remained inconclusive on Monday night. Union minister Arjun Munda said on most of the issues raised by the farmers a consensus was reached and the government proposed to form a committee to address the rest. Farmer leaders said there was no clarity of legal guarantee to the minimum support price.

The farmers will start their¬†Delhi Chalo¬†march at 10 am but the Haryana government has put up a major fence around the state to make sure the protesters can not enter Haryana from Punjab. The borders of Delhi have been fortified in an attempt to not allow the rerun of farmers’ 2020-21 protest.

Reason for Protest: Unlike the 2020 protests, which aimed to oppose the three farm laws eventually repealed in 2021, the 2024 Delhi Chalo movement seeks a legal assurance for Minimum Support Price (MSP) across all crops, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, full debt relief for farmers, pensions for farmers and labourers, and withdrawal of cases filed against protesters during the 2020-21 agitation.

Leadership: The current protest is led by a shifting array of unions, reflecting changes in the farmers’ union landscape over recent years. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading Delhi Chalo 2.0, contrasting with the previous dominance of factions like the Bhartiya Kisan Union and Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

Absence of Key Figures: Prominent leaders from the 2020 protests, such as Rakesh Tikait and Gurnam Singh Charuni, are notably absent from Delhi Chalo 2.0. Instead, figures like Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Sarwan Singh Pandher have emerged as prominent leaders.

Heightened Security Measures: While farmers were able to reach the national capital in 2020, the current administration has implemented stringent preventive measures. Roads to Delhi are blocked with barriers, barbed wire, and road spikes, while Section 144 is enforced. The Haryana government has sealed its borders with Punjab to prevent protesters’ entry.

Government Response: In contrast to the previous protests, the government initiated negotiations ahead of the Delhi Chalo march. Talks between farmer leaders and Union ministers began on February 8, with a subsequent meeting on February 12. While the government agreed to withdraw cases against protesters from the 2020-21 agitation, there remains no legal assurance for MSP, according to reports.

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