Farmers are raising their voices in unison against the Agrarian Reform Act brought by the Modi government. The farmers are adamant on the demand to withdraw the three agricultural laws and in protest, the farmers’ organizations have announced a Bharat Bandh. Opposition parties have supported the demand of farmers. In such a situation, very few people would know that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to go to jail for voicing the issue of farmers. At that time, he was kept in Jail Naini, one of the safest jails in the country, where Atal Bihari Vajpayee was closed for five days.
Let me tell you that a political board was being laid for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to be held in 1974. There was a Congress government in UP and the command of power was in the hands of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to be the leader of the Jana Sangh at that time and was counted among the leaders who raised their voice against the Congress on issues related to the people across the country.
Strike against government procurement of wheat
In 1973, the farmers had a good wheat crop. The Congress government of UP was forcing farmers to sell wheat at government prices. The government’s order was that it is mandatory for all farmers to sell wheat at government prices. The prices were getting good in the market due to good yield of wheat, but farmers were upset due to the government order. The Jana Sangh started a wheat levy movement against the government.
In Uttar Pradesh, the responsibility of leading the wheat levy farmer movement was in the hands of Atal Bihari Bajpai. In such a situation, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a road with thousands of people and made a cry against the Congress government. Senior journalist K.K. Vikram Rao says that Vajpayee’s landing on the streets of Lucknow and anti-government slogans started, there was a panic in the power of the country.
Vajpayee staged a sit-in in Lucknow
Atal Bihari Bajpai, while leading the wheat levy movement, said that the government cannot force poor peasant laborers to sell their grain. K. Vikram Rao says that the government was procuring wheat for the food grains across the country, which was being purchased at government prices and was much lower than the market price.
The government said that if even a quintal of wheat has been produced in the farmers’ fields, the farmer should sell half of it. The farmers were not persuaded by this government order and were opposing the government order. The Jana Sangh came out on the road, adding to the tune of the farmers on this issue.