Farmer leaders from Punjab and Haryana have expressed apprehension about the Centre’s recently formed committee on minimum support price (MSP) alleging that the government wants to bring back the repealed farm laws through the backdoor.
Farmer leaders felt the committee should have limited itself to the issue of MSP while other topics such as ways to promote natural farming and crop diversification could have been dealt with separately.
Bhartiya Kisan Union-Dakaunda leader Manjit Singh Dhaner claimed the government constituted the panel as a mere formality.
“Only a formality has been done by forming this committee. Our fight for legal guarantee to MSP will continue. Our demand was for a separate panel on the MSP issue,” he said.
Mr Dhaner also alleged that some members, who are part of the committee, had earlier supported the three farm laws.
“It seems the government again wants to bring back the farm laws through the backdoor,” he said.
Haryana BKU (Chaduni) chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said the farmers had demanded a committee on MSP, “but many issues like crop diversification etc. have been connected to dilute the MSP issue”.
He, too, echoed Mr Dhaner saying people who had openly advocated the farm laws were in the committee.
“It seems the government wants to bring back the farm laws through the backdoor again..We (BKU-Chaduni) boycott this committee,” Mr Chaduni said.
Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, also the chairman of a temporary committee to advise the Punjab government on matters of public importance, alleged the central government’s committee “is the latest example of BJP’s cynical and shortsighted bungling on agriculture, as the disastrous dispensation learns no lessons”.
He also objected to the exclusion of Punjab institutions and state government representatives from the committee. “By deliberately excluding Punjab, the central government has insulted our people,” Chadha tweeted.
He claimed principles of federalism have been violated through non-representation of the states, especially Punjab.
“Clear evidence that the BJP cannot lead India in a unified manner, especially on issues important to its farmers. It’s clear as day why making MSP ‘effective’ is on the table, but a legal guarantee for minimum MSP is not,” Mr Chadha said.
Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said there were several apprehensions regarding the committee. “It is not clear what the committee’s scope is… We don’t think this committee can work on MSP,” he said.
However, Guni Parkash from Haryana, a farmer leader who is a member of the committee, said all the apprehensions raised by the other farm leaders will be discussed by the panel.
He said MSP was not the only issue the farmers were facing and many connected issues such as crop diversification and promoting natural farming were among the ways to strengthen agriculture.
Meanwhile, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions, has rejected the government’s committee on MSP, saying “so-called farmer leaders” who supported the now-repealed farm laws are its members.
The government formed the committee on Monday, about eight months after it promised to set up such a panel while withdrawing the three contentious farm laws last year.
According to the notification, the committee will look at ways to give MSP to farmers by making the system more effective and transparent. Besides MSP, the committee will look at ways to promote natural farming, crop diversification and micro irrigation scheme.
Among other things, it will also suggest the practicality of giving more autonomy to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices that fixes the MSP of agricultural crops and undertake measures to make it more scientific.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)