Farmers along with peasant organisations and concerned citizens across the country are out on the streets against the newly introduced Farm Bills, pointing out that the reforms would only serve the interests of the corporates, not of farmers.
Kerala, where the state government has also announced its opposition to the anti-farmer reforms, witnessed protest gatherings on Monday (September 21) evening against the bills and suspension of eight parliamentarians. The protesters under the banner of Kerala Karshaka Sangham- the state chapter of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)- burned copies of the new Farm Bills in various centres across the state on Monday evening.
Eight members of oppositions parties- K K Ragesh (Communist Party India [Marxist]), Syed Nazir Hussain (Congress), Ripun Bora (Congress), Dola Sen (Trinamool Congress), Elamaram Kareem (CPI(M)), Derek O’Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP) and Rajeev Satav (Congress)- have been suspended from the upper House bypassing the norms of Parliament.
On the evening of September 24, the Kerala Karshaka Sangham will organise torchlit marches at local levels across the state in protest against the anti-farmer policies of the BJP-led centre.
On September 25, the Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi will stage protests outside central government offices across the state. Protests will be organised in 250 centres, said committee president Sathyan Mokeri and Secretary KN Balagopal. The newly introduced farm bills will destroy the progress made by the country in the agricultural sector, take away minimum support price and push farmers into intense hardship, they said.
“By implementing the new reforms, big companies will get a chance to procure the agricultural produces in large quantities and sell it in the market when the market needs it. Since they are the main entity to buy agricultural produces from farmers, they can buy it for the price that has been fixed by them,” explained KN Balagopal while talking about the upcoming protest. Since the private players get total control over procurement and market, they would dictate the terms of the market.
Also, there is no assurance on minimum support price, Balagopal added.
According to the Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi, Kerala will witness a sharp rise in price of agricultural goods which does not bode well for the consumer state.
Also read: Kerala to Strengthen Farmers’ Collectives to Counter ‘Corporate-Friendly Farm Reforms’
Karshaka Pratirodha Samithi has also urged the central government to withdraw the anti-farmer bills which would take away the protection enjoyed by farmers in the country and allow corporates a free run of the agriculture sector. Pratirodha Samithi has also extended their support to the September 25 nationwide protest.
Earlier on Monday, as part of the ongoing protest series across the country, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has given a call for an all India Protest Day and United Actions by Farmers and Workers on September 25 Against Anti-Farmer Bills and Electricity Act Amendments. AIKS also condemned the BJP government for “its utter disregard for established Parliamentary procedures, federal principles, rights of States and farmers in the manner in which three anti-farmer Ordinances are being pushed through without wide consultation.”
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, an umbrella platform of more than 180 farmers’ organisations- has been resisting the anti-farmer policies of the BJP government for long. Following this, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries from the Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the oldest allies of the BJP, had also quit the Union Cabinet in protest against the anti-farmer ordinances.
“The BJP Government now claims that the farm produce will be purchased at Minimum Support Price (MSP) while nowhere in the three legislations there is mention of assured purchase at MSP calculated as per C2+50%, i.e., at least 50% above the cost of production,” AIKS secretary Hannan Mollah and AIKS president Ashok Dhawale said in a statement.
“The three legislations are intended to finish off the APMC Mandis (Market Yards), Government’s role in procurement at MSP, allow corporates the freedom for hoarding and black-marketing and promote contract farming by corporate agribusinesses. These Acts will mean complete withdrawal of the Government from procurement and put farmers at the mercy of corporate companies,” the statement added.
AIKS pointed out that the verbal assurances without ensuring legal sanction for remunerative MSP and action against violating traders or companies have no value. They demand that clear inclusion of guaranteed purchase at MSP must be made in the legislation along with promoting peasant cooperatives in procurement, storage, processing, value addition and marketing rather than pitch for corporate contract farming.
They allege that the BJP government has “aimed to facilitate profiteering by big players like Adani Wilmar, Reliance, Walmart, Birla, ITC etc. Even in the scenario of the disastrous manner of implementation of the Covid-19 Lockdown and acute distress it has caused to farmers and all toiling masses, the BJP Government and Narendra Modi are interested in facilitating corporate loot.”
Raising these issues, AIKSCC and AIKS will stage mass resistance actions on September 25, 2020 including Rasta Roko, Rail Roko and other actions. While, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, which had witnessed the eruption of protests against the said Bills have decided to go for a bandh on the same day.
Also watch: Why Are Farmers Opposing the Farm Bills?