Farmers affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will stage a nationwide agitation on September 8 to demand guaranteed remunerative prices for their produce. On Thursday, leaders of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh said the Centre should either bring in a law to ensure that minimum support prices (MSP) are actually paid to farmers or amend 2020’s farm reform laws to do so.
This is also a demand of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha platform of farm unions, which is opposed to the BJP and has been vociferously protesting the three farm reform laws for almost a year now.
“There is no point in announcing MSP rates if most of the farmers are not actually getting that price in the mandi s. Many farmers are not even getting their production costs covered,” BKS general secretary Badri Narayan Chaudhary told The Hindu on Thursday. “We will give the government time to take action and respond to our concerns until the end of this month. But if they do not, we are prepared to carry out a dharna at the national level on September 8,” he added. He said the BKS was not asking the government itself to necessarily procure all crops at MSP rates, but rather to ensure that no buyer, whether government, private or corporate, is allowed to pay below MSP rates.
In Nagpur, organisation secretary Dinesh Kulkarni told the Press Trust of India that a legal guarantee must be provided. “The government should ensure this remunerative price in the present farm laws or make a separate legislation for the same. The government should make guidelines in respect of contract farming wherein crops are not purchased below MSP. This should be at least implemented for the 23 crops that are currently under the MSP regime,” he said.
The protesting unions of the SKM have also been demanding a legal guarantee for MSP, along with a full repeal of the farm reform laws. Mr. Chaudhary said that the BKS’ stance on the farm laws is more nuanced. “Yes, there are improvements and amendments needed in the laws. But the government has said it is willing to amend the laws. Rather, it is those unions’ demand for full repeal which has halted negotiations,” he said. He added that the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the laws for the last eight months, even though its committee had submitted its report over six months ago.