Farm bills ‘surgical strikes’ on farmers: Digvijaya Singh

Amendments in labour laws were an assault on labourers while twin bills on farming were surgical strikes on peasants, he said.

September 25, 2020 03:16 am | Updated 03:16 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh. File

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh. File

Senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh on Thursday termed the twin farm bills passed by Parliament as surgical strikes on farmers.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 passed by both Houses would help multinational companies access Indian rural agri-market, said Mr. Singh, addressing a press conference here.

Amendments in labour laws were an assault on labourers while twin bills on farming were surgical strikes on peasants, he said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi often accuses Congress of lying on minimum support price. Our demand is that his government should include MSP provisions in the law and make it illegal if a trader purchases farm produce below MSP. The intention of the government is to give billionaires entry into rural agri-market. So far the Indian agri-market has been controlled through government interventions,” said the veteran Congress leader.

“The farm bills allow the Centre to control of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) and small farmers will have to go to New Delhi for dispute resolution if dispute is not resolved at district level. Farmers cannot go to civil court,” he pointed out.

Stating that contract farming provisions were against interests of farmers, Mr. Singh pointed out, “now, multinational companies can enter into contract with any farmers’ group. Farmers cannot sell their produce above the price mentioned in the contract.”

“The Narendra Modi Government has come up with a contract farming which is similar to East India Company’s contracts against which Mahatma Gandhi had started campaign from Champaran. The multinational companies will ask farmers to sign exhaustive agreements which hardly any farmer could understand,” said Mr. Singh.

Stating that the Narendra Modi government was under tremendous pressure from the WTO which advocates free trade, the Congress leader said, “Congress has been resisting this pressure. In 1993, the Congress government had clearly said India would never compromise with interest of small farmers and poor. We had told that our poor population was fighting against malnutrition and WTO cannot put pressure on us.”

“Till 2013, the Indian government had not compromised on how much grain can be stocked up on this despite tremendous pressure. In 2015, BJP-led government compromised on this and gave permission on import of wheat and rice,” said Mr Singh.

“When wheat and rice start coming from foreign, prices will drop. It will harm farmers,” he said.

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