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'Centre's Proposal an Eyewash,' Farmers Reject Plan, to Resume 'Delhi Chalo' March

'Basically, it was a contract farming proposal. It was only valid for those who would switch over from paddy or wheat to crops like pulses, maize or cotton,' one of the leaders of the farmers' movement said.
Farmers at the Delhi-UP border. Photo: Special arrangement

Chandigarh: A day after the Union government tabled a proposal to buy five crops at minimum support price for five years during the fourth round of talks, farmer bodies rejected the proposal and announced as much at a media briefing late on February 19.

Farmers’ bodies will resume their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march on February 21, Wednesday at 11 am, they said.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal, convener of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political), which is leading this latest chapter of the farmers’ protest along with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh committee (KMSC), told reporters that the Union government’s proposal was not beneficial for farmers.

“Hence we have decided to reject it and resume our march from Wednesday onwards,” he added.

Sarwan Singh Pandher, convener of KMSC also added that they will stick to their demand of an MSP guarantee law on all 23 crops for which government announces MSP every year.

Dallewal said government’s proposal was an eyewash. “Basically, it was a contract farming proposal. It was only valid for those who would switch over from paddy or wheat to crops like pulses, maize or cotton. Contract farming as a farming model has already failed and can’t guarantee sustainable income to farmers. Moreover, the government proposal was for five crops out of 23 on which MSP is announced and it was not justified to leave those who were not part of the government proposal behind,” Dallewal stressed.

He added that farmers of the movement believe that it is important to have a law on the MSP and guaranteed procurement of all 23 crops.

Dallewal said various estimates by agriculture economy experts reveal that if the government ensures MSP for all 23 crops, total expenditure will not be more than Rs 1.75 lakh crore. “On the other hand, the Union government spends almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore just on the import of edible oils,” he said.

He also added that the government had not shown commitment on their other demands like loan waiver, stopping the privatisation of electricity, comprehensive public sector crop insurance scheme, Rs 10,000 monthly pension to farmers above 60 years of age, the dismissal and prosecution of junior Union minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ over the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers, among others.

Both farmers’ leaders raised other matters like the resumption of internet in Punjab, and ongoing atrocities on farmers camping at Punjab-Haryana borders in Sambhu and Khanauri barriers.

Also read: ‘Being Treated as If We Are From Pakistan and Shambhu Barrier Is India-Pak Border’

Dallewal said that Haryana DGP in his latest statement claimed that pellet guns were not used on farmers. “This is a lie,” he said.

Meanwhile, other farmers’ unions who are not part of negotiations with the Union also rejected the proposal.

In a statement here, the original SKM body, which is otherwise not part of its splinter group SKM (Non-Political)’s Delhi march programme, stated that the Centre’s proposal to procure five crops namely Maize, Cotton, Arhar/Tur, Massur and Urad for five years was basically to divert and dilute the demand of MSP at the ‘cost + 50% profit’ model for all crops with guaranteed procurement – which was promised in the BJP manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election and originally recommended by National Farmers Commission chaired by M.S. Swaminathan and submitted in 2006.

The SKM declared that nothing below the abovementioned MSP model for all crops with guaranteed procurement is acceptable to the farmers of India.

“If the Modi government is unable to implement the promise made by BJP, then let the Prime Minister be honest to tell that to the people,” it said.

Big showdown likely now

Clashes had begun and dozens were injured when farmers were halted from marching towards Delhi on February 13 at the Punjab and Haryana borders at Shambhu and Khanauri.

Since then, there has been status quo as farmers have been in constant talks with the Centre. There have been four round of talks.

More than 10,000 farmers have been camping on these borders where security personnel too have been deployed in huge numbers.

During the press conference on Monday, farmers leaders appealed to the Haryana government not to halt their march and allow them to camp at the national capital for the fulfilment of their legitimate rights.

Dallewal said that the agitation for their demand is farmers’ constitutional right and cannot be taken away by force, as it is happening at these borders.

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