PM ‘attacked’ farmers, told ‘lies’ about MSP, say farm groups

Farmers watch the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on a screen during 'Kisan Mahasammelan', in Raisen.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Protesting farmers groups accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “attacking” them in his speech on Friday, adding that his claims on minimum support prices (MSP) were “lies”. With regard to the ongoing Supreme Court case, farm leaders have not yet made any firm decision on whether to implead themselves as proposed by the court.

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“The Prime Minister has launched an open party attack on the farmers of India by claiming that they are linked to Opposition parties,” said a statement from the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), responding to Mr. Modi’s address to Madhya Pradesh farmers. “In place of addressing the issue of repeal of the three Farm Acts which erode farmers’ hold on land and farming and establish the MNCs and big business to grow in agriculture, he has reduced himself to a party leader undermining his role as a responsible executive head of the country, expected to solve problems.”

The Bharatiya Kisan Union-Tikait dismissed the Centre’s claims of helping farmers by increasing MSPs. It pointed out that the MSPs of major crops had an average yearly increase of 8-12% in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) era, in comparison to only 1-5% under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). “These are Modi-ji’s lies about MSP,” said the group’s leader Rakesh Tikait, adding that most pulses were not being bought at MSP prices. Even with regards to paddy, a farmer in Bihar is still forced to sell his crop at half the rate of MSP because government procurement has not reached him, he said.

Mr. Tikait also termed the Centre’s claims of implementing the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations as a “lie”, pointing out that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) formula for calculating MSP does not follow the Commission, and has resulted in “suppressing the rights of farmers”.

The PM’s claim that the new laws would promote investment in farm storage infrastructure would only help corporates, said Mr. Tikait. “This means that Modi-ji is promoting agri business, not farmers. Privatisation is being promoted in farming. After the Navratna companies were privatised, Modi is now eyeing the privatisation of agriculture,” he said.

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All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) general secretary Hannan Mollah questioned Mr. Modi’s claim that the farm reforms were not a sudden move but the result of two decades of consultation and planning. “Without discussing with farmers, what is the use of saying we have been talking for 20 years in bureaucratic rooms? No farmers’ group was consulted before these laws were brought, no farmer has asked for these laws. These are laws to help corporates, not farmers,” he said.

Mr. Mollah said the AIKS had not been named by the Supreme Court in the list of farm organisations to be impleaded into the ongoing case. Having sought legal opinion, the group has decided not to get involved in the case.

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However, other groups are yet to make up their minds. The Tikait group, which is part of the SC’s list, declined to answer queries on the case. Another group on the list, the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta Siddhipur, headed by Jagjit Singh Dallewal, is part of the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKMS). “The discussions are still ongoing. Neither the SC nor the government has taken our permission to make us part of the case, and we have not got anything official from either of them. So we cannot say anything yet,” said Abhimanyu Kohar, an RKMS spokesperson.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 1:53:10 AM |

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