Farmers march in Delhi: Joint House session, loan waiver and MSP on protesters’ wish list

Collectively known as the Kisan Mukti Bills, ‘The farmers’ freedom from indebtedness bill’ and ‘The farmers’ right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices for agricultural commodities bill’ seek a one-time complete waiver of outstanding loans and minimum support prices for agricultural produce.

delhi Updated: Nov 29, 2018 09:49 IST
Dhamini Ratnam
Dhamini Ratnam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
farmers march,farmers protest,farmers march in delhi
Though the agrarian crisis is a decades-long issue, it is in the past few years that several such farmers’ protests have occurred, including in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. (AFP File )

Several thousand farmers and agricultural workers will congregate in Delhi on November 28 and 29, to demand a special 21-day joint session of Parliament. Their demands include that two private member bills tabled in August by Member of Parliament Raju Shetti be passed and the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission be discussed.

Collectively known as the Kisan Mukti Bills, ‘The farmers’ freedom from indebtedness bill’ and ‘The farmers’ right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices for agricultural commodities bill’ seek a one-time complete waiver of outstanding loans and minimum support prices for agricultural produce.

In 2004, the National Commission for Farmers headed by MS Swaminanthan submitted five reports, which contain a raft of recommendations that safeguard the interest of farmers.

“Our main demands are freedom from debt for farmers and assured procurement of crops which give 50% returns over C2 measure of cost of cultivation,” said Vijoo Krishnan, Joint Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, which together with the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee, is one of several farmers’ organisations which will take part in the march.

C2 measure includes imputed value of rent of land in addition to expenses on labour and other farm inputs.

Farmers will march from various locations in Delhi to reach Ramlila Maidan on November 29 and they will March to Parliament Street on November 30. A charter of demands will be submitted on the 30th, Krishnan said.

Some of the significant demands of the bill include formation of national and state disaster relief commission that looks specifically at farmers’ distress, and the right to access institutional credit at subsidised interest rates.

Though the agrarian crisis is a decades-long issue, it is in the past few years that several such farmers’ protests have occurred, including in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. In fact, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janta Party address farmers in their manifestoes for the ongoing state assembly elections.

In March, over 35,000 farmers marched from Maharashtra’s Nashik district to Mumbai, to demand complete loan waiver, the rights of adivasi farmers to till forest land and MSP.

The Maharashtra government agreed to several demands, including a waiver of Rs 1.5 lakh per family irrespective of land holding size, and providing MSP as per the Swaminathan Commission.

According to Janhavi M, a volunteer with Nation For Farmers (NFF), the Mumbai march showed a groundswell of support from the middle class—several came out to help the farmers with food, footwear and medical aid. NFF, which was formed in August, is a country-wide group of urban middle-class persons who express solidarity with the farmers and their demands.

Aagnay Budhraja, 33, an NFF volunteer said the group has been busy making arrangements in the past month.

Welcome points will be set up in seven locations, including Raj Ghat and Dhaula Kuan, where food, water and medical kits will be available.

More than 300 volunteers, including many students of Delhi University, Ambedkar University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University, will assist the farmers in reaching the Ramlila Maidan, from specific assembly points across the city.

The Delhi government will provide 260 mobile toilets en route and at the Maidan, besides water stations and ambulances on stand-by. On Friday, the rally is expected leave from the grounds at 8 AM.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 09:49 IST