Chaudhary Charan Singh, the first farmer prime minister of India, used to say that the road to the prosperity of the country passes through fields. But today the wall of protest and agitation has been raised on this path. Chaudhary Charan Singh was born on this day 118 years ago and in his memory, this day is celebrated as Farmers Day every year. It is ironic that today, on one side, when the whole country is remembering the biggest leader of farmers, so far, on the other hand, thousands of farmers around Delhi are opposing the new agricultural laws.
In 1937, Singh introduced a private member bill in the interest of farmers in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly at the age of 34. Through this bill, he wanted to give the farmers the right price for their crop and wanted to increase their income. This was similar to what the central government is aiming at today–to increase the income of farmers through new agricultural laws.
However, even then there was such a gang active in the country which was against the bill and these people did not allow this bill to pass. Singh continued to struggle for the farmers but he never did politics in the name of farmers. On the strength of this struggle, he became the fifth prime minister of the country, he also held the post of the home minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister of the country and also became the Uttar Pradesh chief minister twice.
Singh did not agree with the view of first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the matter of farmers, and he finally quit the Congress. But today the same Congress and opposition parties are carrying guns on the farmers’ shoulders and the result of this is that the negotiations between the government and the farmers have not reached any conclusion.
Now the question is, who should be considered the real farmer of the country? Those who are supporting the new laws or those who are opposing it. Singh became the prime minister despite being a farmer leader but can you imagine a farmer becoming prime minister in today’s era.
In 1977, a non-Congress government was formed under the leadership of Morarji Desai, opposing Indira Gandhi’s decision of Emergency. Chaudhary Charan Singh was the Deputy prime minister in this government but in July 1979 this government fell and then on July 28, 1979, with the help of Congress, Chaudhary Charan Singh became the prime minister. He had to prove his majority by August 20 but on August 19 Indira Gandhi withdrew her support and Singh’s government fell and he had to resign.
Now you think that if the Congress had allowed a farmer leader to remain the prime minister of the country for a long time, would the farmers of the country be in such a bad state today?
In 1978, on the 76th birthday of Chaudhary Charan Singh, a Kisan Sammelan was held at the Boat Club in Delhi. Then 10 lakh farmers reached Delhi, the capital of the country. Through this, he showed his strength, the Congress also got the opportunity to sway farmers and after the fall of Morarji Desai’s government, Singh became the prime minister with the help of Congress.
Apart from Chaudhary Charan Singh, there was another big farmer leader in India named Mahendra Singh Tikait. He was called the second leader of farmers after Singh. 32 years ago today, in 1988, under the leadership of farmer leader Tikait, 5 lakh farmers arrived in Delhi to protest. Tikait was a big farmer leader at that time and at that time farmers came to Delhi with their 35 demands, ranging from reducing irrigation rates to crops.
Demand was also kept for the right price. In order to stop this movement, there was a firing from the police, in which two farmers were also killed. Leaders like Singh had a vision for the growth of rural India and that there should be massive agricultural reforms in the country.
In 1952, when he was the Agriculture Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he brought a law to end the practice of Zamindari. His efforts were also strongly opposed by a section, especially by the big landlords who claimed to be farmers themselves but Singh enforced this law with his own understanding. The condition of farmers in Uttar Pradesh started getting better. A major benefit of this was that the Naxalite movement did not find a place in Uttar Pradesh, while Naxalite movements were organized in many parts of the country in the name of opposition from the zamindars.
Singh had a far-sighted vision for the farmers and he made big decisions for the future by ignoring the petty demands. But the farmer leaders of today lack this vision and how to take forward the demand of farmers. Overall, politics is happening a lot in the name of farmers. But in the absence of leaders like Singh and Tikait, the farmers are not able to move forward. The farmers have no leader who can negotiate with the government and find a way out. That is, there is confusion.
Singh used to say proudly that he is the leader of farmers. He gave a voice to the section of the society which was exploited and oppressed and which was not heard anywhere. Even today many parties and leaders do politics in the name of Singh but when it comes to paying respect, remembering them, these leaders do not appear anywhere.
The biggest thing is that 38 per cent of the MPs of the current Lok Sabha are farmers. But what is the condition of the ancestral village of Singh and his house? Singh was born in Noorpur village of Hapur near Delhi but today the people of this village are angry with Singh’s son and president of Rashtriya Lok Dal Ajit Singh.
We bring you a ground report from this birthplace of Singh and sadly the first farmer PM did not get the honour. Leaders in the country do politics in the name of farmers. The roads leading to the village are still rough and there is neither a school nor any other facilities for children to study here. This is a village which has been forgotten by politics.
Today, the walls and ceilings of the rooms of the house, where he stayed, are shabby. In 2000, former UP chief minister Rajnath Singh built a library in the village in memory of Singh. Ajit Singh’s party RLD was also an ally in the government. But over time, as the history of this village has started to get blurred, this library too has lost its existence. Some books which are kept in the library have also been coated with dust. There are neither chairs to sit in nor tables. The fans are missing and the electrical boards are also uprooted.
A guest house in this village was also built in 2006. The motive was that when people would come to this village to know former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, he would be accommodated in this guest house. But the way the leaders have forgotten this village. People of Nurpur village demanded an inter-college there for a long time. This demand was also met when Rajnath Singh was the UP CM. The land was given, walls were also erected around the land, but later as the circumstances changed, this Inter College became an incomplete demand.