Farmer Unions reject Union’s proposal for 5 year contractual MSP on three pulse crops, maize, and cotton, calls it “eyewash”

SKM (non-political) and KMM to resume with the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest on February 21, appeal to state and union to allow them peaceful passage, SKM to hold black flag protest outside BJP MPs houses, farmers from Haryana to join the protest and demand MSP for bajra and oilseeds
Image Courtesy: PTI

A day after news broke out that a proposal on 5-year contractual MSP (minimum support price) has been tabled by the panel of Union Ministers to farmer leaders with the aim of bringing a consensus to the farmers’ demand of bringing in a law guaranteeing MSP, farmer union have rejected the said proposal, calling the same to be an “eyewash”. The announcement regarding the rejection of the proposal was made by Jagjit Singh Dallewal (convener of SKM non-political), one of the organisations super-heading the current ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, to the reporters on the evening of February 19. He deemed the said proposal to not be beneficial for all farmers and there was no justification for providing MSP for only 5 crops out of the previously demanded 23 crops. As per a video provided on ANI, Dallewal said “…After the discussion of both forums, it has been decided that if you analyse, there is nothing in the government’s proposal…This is not on the favour of farmers. We reject it.”

The video can be viewed here:

As has been reported yesterday, during the fourth round of talks between the farmer leaders, namely Dallewal, Sarwan Singh Pandher (coordinator of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha) and Jarnail Singh and union ministers, namely Piyush Goyal (Food Minister), Arjun Munda (Union Agriculture Minister) and Nityanand Rai (Minister of State for Home Affairs), a proposal by the Union had been tabled before the farmer leaders. Through the same, it was proposal that government promoted cooperative societies like NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India) and NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) would be buying three pulse crops, maize, and cotton at MSP for five years after entering into a legal contract with farmers. It was also provided that there would be no limit on the quantity. Notably, the previous three talks between the union ministers and farmer leaders, which had taken place on February 8, 12 and 15, had remained inconclusive.

Reasons behind rejecting the proposal

Since the year 2020-21, the Sanyukt Kisan Morhca had fragmented into distinct entities, which are SKM (Punjab), SKM (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha. These entities have separately rejected the proposal of the Union. Notably, the KMM and SKM (non-political) are the two forums that gave the call of Dilli Chalo on January 2. The SKM had initially distanced itself from the protest, but later as the state and Union government started using excessive force on the farmers at the Punjab-Haryana borders, the SKM expressed their solidarity with the protesting farmers and started holding mass protests in support.

Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (Non–Political): As per a report of the Wire, Dallewal termed the proposal given by the government to be an eyewash and stated “Basically, it was a contract farming proposal. It was only valid for those who would switch over from paddy or wheat to crops like pulses, maize or cotton. Contract farming as a farming model has already failed and can’t guarantee sustainable income to farmers.”

Stressing on not leaving those farmers behind grow crops and pulses other than those specified in the proposal, the farmer leader further stated “Moreover, the government proposal was for five crops out of 23 on which MSP is announced and it was not justified to leave those who were not part of the government proposal behind.” He added that farmers of the movement believe that it is important to have a law on the MSP and guaranteed procurement of all 23 crops.

Referring to the noise that is being made by certain sections regarding the impossibility of guaranteeing MSP for all crops as it will plunge Indian economy into bankruptcy, Dallewal said various estimates by agriculture economy experts reveal that if the government ensures MSP for all 23 crops, total expenditure will not be more than Rs 1.75 lakh crore. “On the other hand, the Union government spends almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore just on the import of edible oils,” he said, as per the report of the Wire.

In furtherance to this, farmer leader Dallewal also emphasised on the lack of commitment shown by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government regarding the other demands raised by the farmers, such as the loan waiver, stopping the privatisation of electricity, comprehensive public sector crop insurance scheme, Rs. 10,000 monthly pension to farmers above 60 years of age, the dismissal and prosecution of junior Union minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ over the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers, among others.

It was asserted by the organisation that extensive consultations with stakeholders preceded their decision to ensure that the Union did not have a chance to claim that farmers immediately rejected its proposal without any debate.

Notably, Sarwan Singh Pandher, convener of KMSC, also added that they will stick to their demand of an MSP guarantee law on all 23 crops for which government announces MSP every year.

Sanyukt Kisan Morcha: Separately, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which represents almost 40 farm unions across India, also rejected the proposal of the union government. Referring to the proposal of the Union, the SKM stated that the Union government has basically proposed to divert and dilute the demand of MSP based on the formula of C2+50% for all crops with guaranteed procurement which had been promised in the BJP Manifesto in the 2014 General Election and originally recommended by the National Farmers Commission chaired by M S Swaminathan and submitted in 2006. It has been declared by the SKM that nothing below MSP calculated at the formula of C2+50% for all crops with guaranteed procurement is acceptable to the farmers of India. “If the Modi Government is unable to implement the promise made by BJP, then let the Prime Minister be honest to tell that to the people,” said Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All India Kisan Federation.

As per the report of Indian Express, Bhangu added, “It clearly indicates that government has virtually denied the demand for a legal guarantee for MSP for all agricultural produce along with an assured market based on Dr Swaminathan’s formula. The proposed agreement amounts to contract farming, which the farmers had rejected when the agitation against three farm laws (since repealed) was suspended. The proposal seems to have been made in connivance with the Punjab government to diversify agriculture in order to save underground water in the state. The proposal is silent on whether it will be a pan-India scheme.” Bhangu further provided that if farmers accepted the proposal, it would give an excuse to the central government to not procure paddy and wheat in Punjab.

Additionally, SKM sought for the Union Ministers to clarify upon the silence of the Modi government on the demands of loan waiver, no privatisation of electricity, comprehensive public sector crop insurance scheme, Rs.10000 monthly pension to farmers above 60 years age, dismiss and prosecute Ajay Mishra Teni, Union MoS (Home) the main conspirator of Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers among others.

What awaits the farmers now?

Now that the farmer leaders and the farmer unions have rejected the “innovative” and the “out-of-the-box” proposal put forth by the Union, the farmers will continue with their protests to raise their demands. In its address with the media, farmer leader Pandher announced that they will be resuming with the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, which had been put on hold for 2 day, from 11 am on February 21. As per his statement to ANI, Pandher said, “We will peacefully move towards Delhi on February 21 at 11 am.”

The video can be viewed here:

With this, farmer leader Dallewal urged the state government of Haryana and the Union government to “to either resolve our issues or remove barricades and allow us to proceed to Delhi to protest peacefully.” They also appealed to the Haryana government not to halt their march and allow them to camp at the national capital for the fulfilment of their legitimate rights. Referring to their Constitutional rights, Dallewal said that the agitation for their demand is farmers’ constitutional right and cannot be taken away by force, as is happening at these borders.

It is essential to note that more than 10,000 farmers stay camping on the Haryana-Punjab borders, confined to Shambhu and the Khanauri border points, where security personnel have been deployed in huge numbers. The state force has been using excessive force through water cannons, rubber pellets and tear gas shells to stop the protesting farmers from proceeding on their march to Delhi. More than 100 protesting farmers have been injured from these suppressive and repressive tactics, leading to three deaths being caused till now. Journalists covering the protests have also sustained injuries.

During the press conference, farmer leader Pander said also referred to the injustice being meted out to the protesting farmers at the hands of Haryana police and said “The way farmers were treated at the (Shambhu) border is condemnable. The main reason for inviting Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann to the meetings was to raise the issue of barricading along the borders, and that people of his state (Punjab) are facing tear gas shelling from neighbouring state. He guaranteed to take notice of the situation, but he hasn’t. He should have put this issue in front of ministers. And today, Haryana DGP in his statement said that we haven’t used pellet guns and tear gas; we request Supreme Court to take suo moto cognisance against those who have done this act.”

The video can be viewed here:

In addition to this, SKM has announced plans for a black flag protest against BJP Members of Parliament on February 21 and has scheduled a meeting in Delhi on February 22 to strategise upon the further actions that need to be taken.

Apart from, Haryana farmers will also joining the ongoing protest with farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni announcing the same. As per the report of ANI, Charuni declared on February 19 said that Haryana will also join the agitation after February 21 in case the government does not agree to include oilseeds and bajra for procurement in their proposal for MSP.

“The government should think and understand that these two things (Oilseeds and Bajra) are very important (for procurement). Just like they mentioned pulses, maize, and cotton, they should include these two crops too. If these two are not included, we will have to think about it again…Yesterday, we took a decision that if the government doesn’t agree by 21st February, Haryana too will join the agitation,” ANI quoted Gurnam Singh Charuni as saying.



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