Union Budget 2023-24: Will Observe Black day on February 9 by Burning PM’s Effigy, say AIKS
New Delhi: Coming down heavily on the Union budget, Hannan Mollah, Vice President, of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said that the anguished farmers feel cheated after the centre cut fund allocations in many schemes related to the farm sector and they will observe black day on February 9 by burning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigy across the country. The mass action programme will be joined by agricultural workers affiliated with the All India Agriculture Workers Union.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Mollah said that the farmers expected that the distressed farm sector will receive much-needed relief in form of an announcement of Minimum Support Price (MSP) as per the Swaminathan Commission report but it handed out complete disappointment and apathy by almost cutting Rs 2.5 Lakh crore and shifting it to capital expenditure section.
“The centre has been abandoning its promise of forming a committee to ensure guaranteed MSP, and withdraw cases booked during protests, agitations, and rail roko appeals for more than a year. We hoped that it would come with something positive in this budget but it failed miserably,” he said. Mollah was referring to the letter written by then-farmer welfare secretary Sanjay Agarwal at the culmination of historic farmers' struggles at the borders of Delhi.
He said, “we protest the extensive reduction in allocation for MNREGA, food subsidy, fertiliser subsidy, insurance, irrigation, agriculture, labour and all other social sectors. The Prime Minister has nakedly betrayed his own promise of doubling the income of the farmers by 2023. The 81-crore people of India were denied rice and wheat at the subsidised rate of Rs 2 and Rs 3 respectively. There are no measures in the budget to ensure legally guaranteed MSP@C2+50% with an assured procurement system and for comprehensive loan waiver for the poor and middle peasantry and agricultural workers. The demand to provide 200 work days under MNREGA with a minimum wage of Rs 600/day has been rejected.”
Veteran farmers leader Mollah said that the centre seems to have missed the point that the increase in capital expenditure will lead to an increase in import bills and create a balance of payment problem. The need was to dedicate more resources to domestic consumption. It is evident from the fact more than 80 crore people rely on rations provided under Public Distribution System (PDS).
V Shivdasan, Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha and joint secretary, of All India Agricultural Workers Union said that the rural sector is feeling the heat of less work and yet the centre reduced the funds under NREGA to Rs 60,000 crores. The centre had allocated Rs 73,000 crores but was forced to Rs 90,000 crore in the previous financial year due to distress. A similar cut could be seen in food subsidy bills. “We are very much anguished from this anti-people budget and will build a nationwide campaign against it,” Shivdasan said.
Krishna Prasad, Finance Secretary, AIKS said that the centre even ignored the nutrition demands of people who are battling hunger on daily basis. He said, ”81 crore people out of 131 crore population depend on Public Distribution System for ration. To achieve the daily target of 2500 calories, a person needs to consume 400 grams of rice and 100 grams of dal daily. The government provides only five kg of rice and seven kg are bought from the open market. The ideal answer to it should have been taxing the rich. But it rather exempted them.”
Citing the example of corporate and wealth tax across the world, he said the centre chose the lower levels of taxes for the rich. He said that the lion's share of the credit for agriculture also is accrued by the agri-business. As per the Oxfam reports the top 10 % of the population has 74% of the wealth in India, however, the Union Government is not ready to tax them saying the rate of taxation is already high in India which is untrue. As per the data available, the corporate tax and wealth tax in India is in the range of 15%-22% and 30% respectively. These tax rates in Italy are 23%-27% and 47%, in Japan 15%-29.74% and 55%, in Cuba 15%-30% and 50% and in China 0%-25% and 45% respectively.
He added that PM Modi often takes pride in saying that the country is run by a double-engine government but it is creating dual nations of rich which will not be tolerated. He added, “the double engine government - as claimed by the Prime Minister is bent upon creating a double India - the India of rich corporate forces and India of poor peasants and the workers. BJP policies stand for the development of the corporate forces, not of the people. We call upon the peasants and the agricultural workers across India to observe 9th February 2023 as Black Day to protest the cruelly anti-peasant, anti-worker Union Budget. The day will be observed by organising burning copies of the budget, effigy burning, demonstrations, Evening Dharna and public meetings.”
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