To protest against what they termed an “anti-farmer” Union Budget, several farmers’ organisations announced on Tuesday that they would be holding a week of agitations, starting from February 12, at around 1,000 locations across India.
At a press conference here, the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said protests, including burning of copies of the Budget 2018-19, would be held from February 12 to 19.
All-India Kisan Sabha general-secretary Hannan Mollah said the government had failed to fulfil the promises it had made to farmers. This included giving cost plus 50% minimum support price (MSP), debt relief, insurance and procurement of crops.
Discussing the effect of the Budget on the middle class, he said: “This Budget is made only to appease the international finance organisations at the expense of the common people. Presently, 1% of corporate houses in India control 73% of the income generated in the past four years as compared to 49% under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government.”
‘Have been deceived’
AIKSCC convenor V. M. Singh said that the Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1 had “deceived” farmers. “The old MSP has been reintroduced in a new manner. The allocation for market intervention has been reduced. We want farmers’ debt to be waived,” he added.
Elaborating on the issue of MSP, president of Swaraj India Yogendra Yadav said that Mr. Jaitley’s promise of ensuring cost plus 50% profit was misleading.
“Instead of ensuring that farmers got a comprehensive cost (C2), which includes imputed rent and interest on land and capital, plus 50% profit, Mr. Jaitley announced 50% profit plus actual cost (A2) and imputed value of family labour (FL). Unlike C2, A2+FL does not take into consideration the rent for owned land and interest on fixed capital,” Mr Yadav said.
“There is a huge difference in the earnings of farmers in Mr. Jaitley’s formula and Swaminathan’s formula. Assuming that every farmer receives the MSP, farmers’ annual income would have increased by 15% to 20% if C2 cost had been considered,” he added.
On crop insurance, National Alliance for People’s Movements leader Medha Patkar said that 11 companies had earned profits of ₹24,000 crore in the name of crop insurance, while farmers had not benefited at all.
“The Budget does not take into consideration agricultural crisis and farmers’ suicide. It has no provisions for marginalised communities, women farmers and tribal farmers. The Budget does not have adequate allocation for fisheries either,” she added.