Farm unions say won’t end agitation until all demands met
Farm unions on Saturday said they would continue their agitation across states until all their “rightful demands”, including a law that guarantees minimum support prices (MSPs) for farm produce, were met by the Modi government. The farmers’ resolution comes a day after the Modi government said it would repeal the three farm laws cultivators say will jeopardise their livelihoods.
A statement from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella platform for farm unions, said cultivators would gather in Lucknow in thousands for a mahapanchayat on November 22 to demand a legal guarantee on MSP. An MSP is a floor rate for farm produce meant to help avoid distress sale.
The SKM also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for skipping any comment on the MSP issue, while announcing his decision on Friday to roll back the farm laws in a nationally televised speech.
“While the Prime Minister of India announced his Government’s decision to repeal 3 black farm laws, he chose to remain silent on the pending demands of farmers,” a joint statement of key farm unions said.
The SKM also demanded sacking of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni. The minister’s son had been arrested after his vehicle ploughed through farmers returning from a protest in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri. Eight people were killed in the incident. The farm unions said, besides a law on MSPs, they want all cases filed against farmers to be withdrawn unconditionally.
Farmers will join in large numbers at all protest sites on the first anniversary of the farmers’ agitation on November 26, the SKM said. The farmers’ demonstrations at toll plazas and near Parliament for the entire duration of the winter session beginning November 29 will be held as planned, the farm unions said.
On November 28, farm unions are also slated to hold a massive rally at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan under the banner of Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha, where over 100 farm and labour organisations will participate.
In his speech to the nation on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would repeal all three agricultural laws enacted last year that had set off tough protests and street battles by tens of thousands of farmers.
The laws the government said would be annulled were aimed to ease restrictions on trade in farm produce, allow food traders to stockpile large stocks of food for future sales and lay down a national framework for contract farming based on a written agreement.
Farm unions say the legislation would leave them at the mercy of large corporations, leaving them with little bargaining power.
The decision to scrap the laws comes ahead of crucial state elections in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous, bellwether state, and Punjab, where farmers are an influential voting bloc.
“The Modi Government has refused to acknowledge the high human cost that was imposed on the protestors due to its adamant and egoistic behaviour,” the SKM said in its fresh resolution.