New Delhi: Describing the three new farm laws as a “death warrant for the country’s farmers”, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday demanded that the Centre repeal the legislation and provide a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) on the basis of the Swaminathan Commission report.
“The three anti-farmer laws are a death warrant for the country’s farmers. If these laws are implemented, agriculture in India will go into the hands of a few industrialists and the farmers will be devastated. If these laws are implemented, then the farmers of India will become labourers in their own land,” Kejriwal said after meeting farm leaders at the Delhi Vidhan Sabha.
Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), invited the farm leaders to lunch on Saturday and discussed the ongoing protests against the new laws that seek to deregulate agricultural trade. The invite from Kejriwal came in the backdrop of a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ that will take place in UP’s Meerut on February 28, where the Delhi CM will address the farmers.
For 88 days, farm unions have camped outside Delhi against the three laws that cultivators say favour big corporations. The government has refuted the concerns, and offered to put the laws on hold for 18 months, but talks are currently locked in a stalemate. Opposition parties — including the Congress, Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and Left parties — have attacked the Centre over these laws in the past two months.
“The farmers also demanded that the BJP-led Central government should give a legal guarantee on the MSP. They demanded that MSP guarantee should be implemented on all the 23 crops. The farmers also demanded that the MSP should be implemented following the recommendation of the Swaminathan commission,” Kejriwal said.
Farmer leader and president of Rashtriya Jat Mahasangh, Rohit Jakhar, who attended the meeting with Kejriwal, said they will continue to protest.
“By inviting farmers of western Uttar Pradesh to the Delhi legislative assembly, Kejriwal has broken all barriers of caste, religion and sect and embraced the entire Chaudhary community of UP. Kejriwal has given us respect just the way Lord Krishna gave respect to Sudama,” he said.
Kuldeep Tyagi, president, Bharatiya Kisan Andolan (Meerut) said the Centre should immediately roll back the three farm laws.
“The central government should rather bring a law which gives us a guarantee on MSP and this should be based on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. The farmer protest will continue. In the villages, the panchayats will reach out to the people and raise these demands. This battle is for the farmers, but this battle will become a battle for every citizen because farmers provide food to the entire country,” Tyagi said.
On January 9, agricultural scientist Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, known as the father of India’s Green Revolution, said the Union government should fix minimum support prices (MSPs) for farm produce by using a broader and more comprehensive measure of cultivation costs than the one being currently used.
Swaminathan first recommended that MSPs – which act as a floor price to avoid distress sales – should be “at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production” in the fifth report of the National Commission on Farmers set up under his chairmanship.
The President gave his assent to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 (FPTC), the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 (FAPAFS), and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, on September 27.
The first law aims to permit the sale of agricultural produce outside the mandis regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC), the second provides for contract farming and the third deregulates the production, supply, distribution of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onion and edible oilseeds.
The Opposition criticised the government for the way the laws were passed with the BJP oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal parting ways over the laws.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday passed a political resolution hailing the passage of the farm laws, which it said are aimed at improving the lot of the farmers and increasing their income. The resolution, passed at the end of a day-long national office bearers meeting, which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A Delhi BJP spokesperson refused to comment on the chief minister’s remark on the three farm laws.
On January 12, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three farm laws till further orders after several petitions were filed challenging their constitutional validity, and decided to set up a four-member committee to resolve the deadlock between the Centre and farmers’ unions.