Why Farmers Are Marching Toward Delhi Again

Once again, India’s capital is bracing itself for a siege. Not by a foreign army but by an army of Indian farmers, streaming toward New Delhi from nearby states to protest government policies.

The farmers’ march has turned the city’s main points of entry into choke points, as the federal and local police go into overdrive: barricading highways by pouring concrete and stacking shipping containers to halt the advancing tractors.

The authorities have blocked the social media accounts of some protest leaders and even used drones that were once billed as an agricultural innovation to drop tear-gas grenades on the demonstrators.

Didn’t this happen before?

The scenes hark back to North India’s biggest protests of 2020 and 2021, when hundreds of thousands of farmers, mostly from the states of Punjab and Haryana, forced the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to abandon three bills meant to overhaul India’s agricultural economy.

If the farmers prevailed then — in a rare retreat for the powerful Mr. Modi — why are they massing again, threatening or even causing disruptions in and out of an urban area that is home to about 30 million people?

This time, the farmers’ central demand concerns something called the minimum support price, or M.S.P. They want it to be increased, adding a 50 percent premium to whatever it costs them to produce wheat and rice.

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