New Delhi, Aug 22 (PTI) The Centre does not want to form a committee on minimum support price for crops and was “keeping the country in the dark” over the matter, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait alleged on Monday.
He also accused the Union government of not wanting to make a law on MSP “to help its corporate friends who procure crops from farmers at low rates and sell processed products at high prices”.
Recalling the period in the run-up to the 2020-21 farmers’ protests against the now-repealed farm laws in Delhi, the national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) said there was only “digital agreement” and “exchange of papers” between the farmers’ group and the Centre.
The papers stated that farmers will be consulted in future for the policy but there was no consultation and the bills were brought in even though there were protests in different parts of the country, he claimed at an event at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi.
“The other issue was a guarantee on minimum support price for crops. The government kept the country in the dark for a long time by saying that they are forming a committee but the Samyukta Kisan Morcha is not giving names (for panel members),” Tikait said.
“When it was time to form a committee, they said give us names and we will announce the panel. But that was not the committee for MSP! What does this mean? It means the government does not want to form a committee for MSP,” he claimed.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions, on July 19 rejected the government’s committee on minimum support price, saying “so-called farmer leaders” who supported the now-repealed farm laws are its members, and declared that it will not be a part of the panel.
In its statement, the SKM alleged that the government has included five of its “loyalists”, who openly advocated the three “anti-farmer” laws, in the committee and all of them are either directly associated with the BJP-RSS or support their policies.
While announcing the repeal of three farm laws in November last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to discuss the farmers’ demand for a legal guarantee on MSP.
The agriculture ministry has issued a gazette notification announcing the committee in this regard.
Tikait on Monday demanded the MSP system be implemented across the country.
“The government shows something on paper and procures crops at some other rates. The corporate friends of the Central government procure crops at cheap rates and sell those at a high cost after processing. This is why the government does not want to make law on MSP,” Tikait claimed.
Citing his visits to Himachal Pradesh and Jammu-Kashmir, among others, he highlighted the plight of farmers, vegetable and fruit-growers to demand that MSP be set on vegetables, fruits and dairy products also to prevent the “exploitation” of farmers by the corporate.
He said the ‘mandi system’ in Bihar has closed 17 years ago which resulted in a lot of farmers and workers of the state migrating to other places to earn their livelihood.
“The people of Bihar who are now workers and labourers had more land in their name than many of us. But they had to leave their home because they did not get fair rates for their crops. They left their families, homes, and farms, and now stay in one room as they work in factories,” Tikait said.
The BKU national spokesperson said Bihar had become the first state where the Mandi Act was implemented and preparations are on for a movement to resume mandis there.
“While all this was being planned, a new government was formed in Bihar. We met the new government also and told them the sooner you leave this (Mandi Act), the better it will be. Otherwise, Nitish Kumar will meet the fate of Uddhav Thackeray (former chief minister of Maharashtra),” Tikait said.
“In our meeting with the new government, we asked them that the first thing they should do is resume the mandis. We have a meeting on the sixth (September) during which consultations will be held on the revival of the mandi system in Bihar,” he said. PTI KIS NSD NSD
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