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RSS-wing demands guaranteed prices for crops

The BKS only expects a nominal show of 200 farmers at the protest site in Jantar Mantar, as well as small groups at various district headquarters. Representational Image.   | Photo Credit: RAJEEV BHATT

The current minimum support price (MSP) system is a sham which benefits farmers only in the two States of Punjab and Haryana, said Bharatiya Kisan Sangh general secretary Badrinarayan Chaudhary on Tuesday.

The RSS-affiliated farmers union announced that it will hold a symbolic dharna in 500 district headquarter towns on Wednesday, to demand that a law be enacted to guarantee remunerative prices to all farmers, with such prices set according to different agro-climatic zones.

The BKS, however, said it would not ally with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a platform for unions protesting against the three farm reform laws, which is also calling for a law to guarantee MSP for all farm produce. Although the BKS said the SKM was responsible for politicising the protest, it also blamed the BJP-led government for its role in prolonging the agitation.

‘Govt. unresponsive’

“Though many of [the unions’] demands are unreasonable, the government must also take a sympathetic view of the farmers,” Mr. Chaudhary told journalists in a press conference. In a memorandum to the Prime Minister on August 11, the BKS said the main reason for the anger and unrest among the farmers across the country is that they are not getting the cost-based remunerative price for their produce.

“We have not received any response, so now we will hold a nationwide agitation to demand for a new law,” said the BKS leader.

He pointed out that MSP rates were not keeping up with the surge in input costs, and were also only available to a small fraction of farmers mostly in Punjab and Haryana. Mr. Chaudhary added that it was ridiculous that the MSP for a crop was the same for farmers in Punjab who got free water and electricity and for those in Rajasthan where such inputs were expensive.

“The remunerative prices should be set keeping in mind the input costs in 15 different agro-climatic zones, and no one, whether government or private trader, should be allowed to buy crops at a lower rate,” he said.

The BKS only expects a nominal show of 200 farmers at the protest site in Jantar Mantar, as well as small groups at various district headquarters. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to follow distancing norms, so we will not gather huge crowds. It will be a symbolic dharna,” said Harpal Singh Dagar, Delhi state president of the BKS.

“We will submit a memorandum to district magistrates across West U.P. and Uttarakhand demanding guaranteed remunerative prices for crops,” said Sohanpal, organisation secretary of BKS, West U.P. and Uttarakhand.

“Irrespective of the government in power, we have been asking for guaranteed remunerative prices for more than four decades as this would safeguard the farmers from inflation in diesel, electricity, and urea prices. We expect the government to pay 15% more than the input cost,” he said. This, Mr. Sohanpal said, could be done by either bringing a separate law or making necessary changes in the three farm laws passed last year which have sparked widespread protests.

“Why should the farmer get the minimum price for his effort,” he said, adding at present farmers are making a loss as MSP doesn’t always match the inflation.

SKM leaders however, have dismissed the BKS protest as an attempt to divert attention from their demands and undercut their larger agitation.

However, Mr. Chaudhary said a dharna of nine months could only be sustained because it represented the interests of rich farmers and had become politicised. “We represent the 85% of farmers who are small and marginal and cannot leave their fields to sit on dharna for days on end. Unlike them, we are deshbhakt (patriotic) farmers, who will not carry out violent protest or call for governments to be overthrown,” he added.

Describing the BKU’s protest in the region as “politically motivated noise”, Mr. Sohanpal said many of the elements in the three farm laws were those that the founder of the union, Mahendra Singh Tikait, had championed. “We can always discuss the shortcomings but some farmer organisations have taken a rigid stand.”

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 10:49:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rss-wing-demands-guaranteed-prices-for-crops/article36343467.ece

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