Farmers have announced the protest on May 26th marking 6 months since the protests began. The Opposition has supported the protest and the government has not communicated much to change the status quo.
Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in India, the leaders of 12 major opposition parties have gone ahead and extended their support to the nationwide call for protest by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmer unions protesting against the Centre's three contentious farm laws. The leaders have written to prime minister Narendra Modi demanding the repeal of the three laws "to protect lakhs of our annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people."
The farmers might become the victims of the flaring second wave of COVID-19 if they are allowed to gather in masses in the streets again for the protest. The country's health care services are overwhelmed and the burial grounds are flooded with dead bodies, as a result of a surging number of COVID-19 cases. The steep incline in cases is very concerning, as the new COVID-19 variants have infiltrated the population, and some of these variants are known to be more infectious and lethal.
Opposition Should Re-calibrate Its Support
The signatories of support to the statement include eminent leaders like Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, West Bengal Chief Minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thakeray, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and others. Some of these chief ministers who extended their support lead the states which have been recording a surging number of fatalities due to COVID-19. In principle, support should be provided, certainly not for the protest, at a time when the pandemic is reaching into the far rural areas of India. In the event of the protest turned out to be another super spreader, the opposition will be partly responsible.
Farmers & Government Should Broker A Temporary Solution
The last round of talks between the government and farm leaders was held on January 22. There is immense pressure on the Centre now to handle the national health emergency, to rehaul the vaccination programme, augment oxygen supply and make patented drugs to boost supply.
Amid all this, the farmers' protest might go unconcerned. Government should win the trust and confidence of the farmers, dispel their fears, assure of talks and a solution to the issue with the sole request of giving up on the protest. The Centre can have a meeting with the farmer leaders, by following all the safety protocols and appease them by ensuring the fulfilment of their core demands. The opposition parties, by extending their support for the protest, are only trying to mount pressure on the Centre, which in turn may lead to improper COVID-19 management in the country. As a result, the common man suffers, including the farmers.