Amplify farmers’ struggle at the district-level: Janta Parliament to Opposition leaders

Presidium members asked political parties to work with grassroot leaders to oppose the three farm laws forcibly passed by the government

farmers protest

Janta Parliament members appealed to Opposition political parties to amplify the farmers’ struggle against the three laws forcibly passed by the central government during the seventh Special Kisan Session on January 12, 2021.

Members of the presidium presented their views about the laws to the party representatives, based on resolutions and issues discussed in previous sessions. Member Aruna Roy – National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) General Secretary – asked political parties to spread awareness about the three farm laws via their district level committees. She said that political parties should ask Gram Sabhas to pass a resolution on January 26 to repeal the laws.

Member and veteran journalist P. Sainath called for the formation of ‘Save Farmer, Save Nation’ committees and ground level boycott of corporate products to show solidarity with farmers.

Other members of the presidium included social activist Aruna Roy, retired IAS officer M. G. Devasahayam and Convener of People’s First campaign Thomas Franco. Leaders such as Professor Manoj K. Jha from the RJD, D. Raja from the CPI, G. Devarajan from the AIFB, who visited the Singhu border, K. Raju and Rajeev Gowda from the INC, Dipankar Bhattacharya from the CPI-ML, Sitaram Yechury from the CPI(M,) Sukhendu Sekhar Roy from the TMC, Dr. D. Ravikumar from the VCK and Ghanshyam Tiwari from the Samajwadi Party SP attended the event.

All representatives agreed that the Parliament needed to convene a special session to discuss legalisation of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and other aspects of the agrarian crisis. Some people said that two to three days during the budget session should be dedicated to discussing this issue.

Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to form a new committee, participants questioned the need for such a group when the previous Swaminathan Committee had already given its report regarding the matter. They said the government should implement recommendations under the previous report first.

During the session, Jha was the first to acknowledge that Opposition parties had not done enough for the cause.

“I feel that the opposition parties have not done enough and not got out of their comfort zone to resist the various autocratic measures taken by the government. [As such] RJD and all Opposition parties in Bihar will form a human chain on January 30, to oppose the farm laws,” he said.

The RJD was also one of the parties that approached the Supreme Court regarding the farm laws. Jha said that he was agitated by the manner in which the laws were passed in the Parliament. He also pointed out that governments around the world have taken advantage of the pandemic.

Similarly, Roy said that the passage of the laws undermined Parliament proceedings. He said that the central government intruded on the state subject of agriculture and so recommended sending the laws to a Select Committee for proper stakeholder consultation.

Madhya Pradesh VCK leader Ravikumar said that due to the way that the Parliament was organised during the pandemic, there wasn’t sufficient time to discuss the farm laws. He said that some of them only got the time to address the Parliament at midnight.

Accordingly, Yechury said that his party stood with farmers who chose not to talk to any committee. “The government – and not any committee – must speak to the farmers and all other stakeholders and then bring any new laws,” he said.

Similarly, Bhattacharya stated that his party stands with farmers demanding a repeal rather than a pause of the laws. He also said that the Public Distribution System (PDS) must be universalised to ensure food security as well as higher procurement of crops by the government.

Meanwhile, Raju and Gowda said the Congress party supports the demand for a legal MSP that is backed by procurement. They read a statement by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi where she highlighted that Congress-led state governments constitutionally passed laws against the central farm Acts and continue to pursue them further legally to get approval from the President.

Tiwari said that Amazon and other online marts will soon be selling farmer produce with companies like Adani at the backend to supply and deliver farmers’ produce.



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