Politicians and farm leaders of Punjab and Haryana have unanimously rejected the hike in Minimum Support Price (MSP) of rabi crops announced ahead of schedule by the centre today amid a huge unrest over the proposed farm laws. The two states have seen the maximum resistance against what the Centre has billed as its big-ticket “historic” reform in the farm sector.
“It is our great privilege to work for the welfare of our farmers. In line with our ethos of taking farmer-friendly measures, the Cabinet has taken another historic decision to raise MSP. Crores of farmers will benefit from this,” PM Modi tweeted after the announcement on MSP hike.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was among the first to call out the government.
Terming the move “callous”, he said: “They have made a mockery of farmers’ protests over the farm bills, which by all accounts will eventually pave the way for ending the MSP system and abolish the Food Corporation of India”.
If the BJP-led Central government thought it would “appease the agitating farmers with this trifling hike” they clearly did not understand the situation, he added.
“You can’t just throw crumbs at someone who may be on the verge of losing his livelihood as a result of your shameful actions,” his statement read.
“Centre’s paltry hike in MSP & 5 other Rabi crops is a cruel joke on farmers. They are consistently looking for a written assurance that MSPs will not be abolished for it’s their livelihood. Also, centre has failed to announce a bonus of @100/quintal for stubble management,” Mr Singh later tweeted.
Sukhbir Badal — the chief of Akali Dal which quit the government last week over the issue — said he “outright” rejects the Rs 50 per quintal hike in the MSP for wheat.
Calling the hike “utterly inadequate” he said this comes as a “huge disappointment” to farmers who are already battling unremunerative prices of their produce. The MSP hike announced, he said, is meaningless in the absence of assured procurement of those crops.
Gurnam Singh, a leader of farmer’s organization “Bharatiya Kisan Union, called the move a “conspiracy” by the Centre to end the farmers’ agitation.
Pointing to the timing of the announcement — September instead of last year’s October schedule – he said the government did it early this time to “show that they are not ending the MSP”.
“The increase in the MSP is a result of government’s panic. The increase in rates is also very less. But are they giving a guarantee on the MSP? Will our produce (even) sell on the increased rates? The new law doesn’t guarantee sale on the MSP. This conspiracy will never be successful. Our agitation will not end till the time they make a law to guarantee MSP,” he said.
The farmers have been asking for a written guarantee that the MSP will not be tampered with. They are demanding that the government put in down clearly that they will be able to sell their crops at the kisan mandis at Minimum Support Price.
While the new rules have not eliminated the Minimum Support Price system, it has made it possible for small and marginal farmers to sell crops to private enterprises at competitive prices. But farmers say they are apprehensive of being shortchanged by big corporations, pointing out that it would not be possible for the government to oversee the thousands of transactions each day.
The opposition has said the bills would benefit corporates at the expense of farmers – a stance which has irked the BJP. The opposition fought in Rajya Sabha yesterday to stop the passage of the two farm bills. Today they have requested President Ram Nath Kovind to not sign the bills, which would enact them into laws.
PM Modi took a swipe at the opposition, saying after the historic changes in the agri-sector, “Some people are losing their control of it. So now these people are trying to mislead farmers on MSP (minimum support price)”.