Farmers protest reaches Delhi: Who stands where on agitation and farm bills

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana protesting against Centre’s farm laws. (IE)


Farmers protest against farm laws: Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been allowed to protest in Delhi against the Centre’s farm laws. While the Centre has cleared three laws, farmers are specifically against the opening up of state-run mandis for private players (now farmers can sell their produce to corporate buyers which wasn’t the case earlier) without what they claim guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP). The Centre has assured that farmers will continue to get the minimum support price but they want it in writing and inserted in the acts.

The Centre has on many occasions assured the farmers of MSP but protesters have refused to buy into it and have now intensified their agitation. While a section of farmers from across the country has expressed their fear, the biggest pushback has come from the farmers of Punjab and Haryana. The Centre has so far not shown any signs of going back on its decision and downplayed the opposition coming from Punjab and Haryana saying, it is the middlemen who are protesting as they are the hardest hit by the reform.

Who said what in recent past

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar recently said that the new farm laws were the need of the hour and in the coming time, they will bring revolutionary changes. “We have spoken at the secretary level in Punjab to dispel wrong notions of our farmer brothers there. We will talk on December 3,” he said. He appealed to farmers to not agitate as the Centre was ready to talk about issues and resolve differences. In September, the union agriculture minister had said that the Congress and some opposition parties were misleading farmers for personal gains as they themselves couldn’t bring such reforms.

The minister further said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar wanted similar reforms, but couldn’t muster the courage due to pressure from some quarters. On the question of inserting MSP in acts, Tomar asked, has MSP ever been part of the law? He said that the Congress party ruled for 50 years, why didn’t they incorporate MSP in the law? “They (Congress) are making an issue out of this as they don’t have anything to criticise. The MSP has always been Government of India’s administrative decision and it remains so,” the union minister said.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Friday said that the Centre needs to show statesmanship and accept the farmers’ demand for assured MSP, which is the basic right of every farmer. “If they (Centre) can give verbal assurance I fail to understand why they can’t make it a legal obligation of the GOI,” the chief minister said. He also refuted the claims that Congress was inciting farmers against farm laws, Amarinder Singh said: “Those claiming it’s Congress that is instigating the farmers are blind not to see the lakhs of farmers trying to enter Delhi from across the country. It’s a fight for their lives and livelihoods and they don’t need any backing or provocation.”

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday accused Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of inciting farmers against the laws. He said he would leave politics if MSP was disturbed but the Congress should stop inciting farmers. “I’ve said it earlier and I’m saying it again, I’ll leave politics if there’ll be any trouble on the MSP – therefore, please stop inciting innocent farmers,” he said. Khattar further wrote: “I’ve been trying to reach out to you for the last 3 days but sadly you decided to stay unreachable – is this how serious you are for farmer’s issues? You’re only tweeting and running away from talks, Why? Time for your Lies, Deception and Propaganda is over – let the people see your real face. Please stop putting the lives of people in danger during the Corona pandemic. I urge you to not play with the lives of the people – at least avoid cheap politics during the time of the pandemic.”

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