'Delhi Chalo' protest: Bone of contention MSP on crops

by IANS |

Chandigarh, Feb 13 (IANS) The ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march, named farmers’ protest 2.0, comes after the initial protests in November 2020 that resulted in the repeal of three controversial farm laws in 2021.

Now, the protesting farmers, being led by over 200 unions under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, are again on the roads with a new leadership.

Now the main bone of contention between the farmers and the Central government is enacting a minimum support price (MSP) law for crops.

At a high-level meeting with two Union ministers -- Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda and Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, in Chandigarh, the Centre was favouring a committee on the issue of the MSP but the farmer leaders remained adamant, a senior government functionary told IANS, requesting anonymity.

The Centre also agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation, he said.

However, farmer leaders were adamant on a legal guarantee to minimum support price for crops, which is one of their key demands.

Also the Centre did not make any commitment on a loan waiver.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal, who participated in the meeting, told the media that several committees on the issue had already advocated the need to legalise the MSP. “So another committee would have served no purpose,” he said, adding “the government was also not serious on a loan waiver, though it waived off lakhs of crores of bad debt for big corporate”.

They accused the government of adopting a stubborn attitude.

Sensing that the government did not agree on the MSP demand, they gave the 'March to Delhi' call on Tuesday, sources said.

They said at the meeting there was also agreement on providing compensation to the farmers killed in Lakhimpur, and there is consensus on repealing the Electricity Act 2020.

After the second round of talks, Agriculture Minister Munda said the government is still open to discuss their demands.

“There was a serious discussion with farmers on every topic. The government wants to bring every solution through talks. We reached an agreement on some issues. But there were some issues for which we said that a committee should be made for a permanent solution,” Munda told the media after the meeting.

“Any issue can be resolved through discussion. We are hopeful that we will bring solutions. Our motive is that the rights of the farmers and the public are protected,” Munda, who was accompanying Goyal, said.

Ahead of moving towards the national capital, Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee General Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify why the government is not ready for a discussion with protesting farmers.

“We want to tell the people of India that we tried to find a solution so that we do not have to stand against the government,” he told the media.

He said in the five-hour-long meeting on Monday, “we put forward the situation of Haryana”.

“They are sending police and using water cannons in each and every village of Haryana. They are torturing farmers in Haryana. It seems that both these states are not a part of India anymore, they are being treated as international border,” Pandher said in Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib ahead of moving towards the national capital.

Clarifying his farm outfit stand on the ongoing protest, another farmer leader Darshan Pal said, “We didn’t give the ‘Dilli Chalo’ call. However, organisations other than SKM have the right to protest and it is the responsibility of the Union government to treat such protests in a democratic manner instead of adhering to excessive state repression.”

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