Farmers’ protest: Govt should ensure MSP, says Sangh body
The union government should take proactive steps to end the ongoing farmers’ protest by finding a way to ensure that farm produce is purchased at minimum support price (MSP) whether it is sold in the open market, the agricultural mandis or procured by the government, said Dinesh Kulkarni, the all India organisational secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh on Thursday.
The BKS, which is an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is not part of the ongoing protests, but has been critical of the new laws—the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020—that were passed in Parliament amid strong protest from the opposition.
While the BKS blames the opposition for politicising the issue, it wants the government to end the stalemate by agreeing to their demand of ensuring sale at MSP.
“The new laws make no mention of MSP and we have been demanding that the government should find a way—either bring a new law or amend the existing one— to ensure that farmers get the MSP for their produce. As on date, farmers in various parts of the country including Punjab, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh are being forced to make distress sales,” Kulkarni said.
On Thursday, hundreds of farmers on who are on their way to Delhi were stopped by the Haryana Police using water cannons and tear-gas shells, evoking strong reactions from the opposition. The Congress party, which has been opposed to the farm regulation, criticised the police action against the protesting farmers.
“For nearly 2 months farmers have been protesting peacefully in Punjab without any problem. Why is Haryana govt provoking them by resorting to force? Don’t the farmers have the right to pass peacefully through a public highway? @mlkhattar,” Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh tweeted.
The BKS functionary said the central government needs to be proactive in reaching out to the farmers to initiate dialogue and also meet their demands.
“There are three things we have demanded, first is ensuring that all produce that is sold fetches the MSP. Second, in the open markets there has to be a mechanism to register all the traders who will buy produce. And the third is that there should be dedicated court to take up agri-related disputes,” Kulkarni said.
On the protests that have been going on for months, the BKS functionary said the farmers’ concerns are being hijacked for political gains.
“The government has agreed to talk and there is a meeting on December 3; but these protests are politically engineered, which is why we are not part of them. The farmers should realise that the laws that were passed in Punjab and Rajasthan are also an eye-wash,” he said.
States such as Punjab and Rajasthan had drafted their own laws to negate the central laws.
“In Punjab, they have said purchase of wheat and paddy will not be allowed if the price is lower than the MSP. Do farmers grow only these crops in Punjab, what about the other crops? Similarly, in Rajasthan they have ensure MSP for contractual farming; do contractual farmers grow paddy and wheat? Non- contract farming is usually for high-value produce, so who is the government helping?” Kulkarni said.
He also criticised the police action against farmers and said in a democracy, people have a right to voice their concerns. “It is fair that the government is worried about the rising cases of Covid-19; but what is happening is not good,” he said.
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