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Bharat Ratna for Charan Singh, Swaminathan Welcome, now Honour Their Vision for Farmers: SKM

The farmers collective said PM Modi had indulged in a “poor vote-catching gimmick” and had “used tokenism” to camouflage his “services to big corporate forces in farming.”

SKM denounced PM Modi for failing to solve the crisis of farmers of India. (File photo)

New Delhi: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha SKM), a collective of farmers organisations across the country, on Saturday said it welcomed the decision of the Central government to award the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, to former Prime Minister and farmer leader Charan Singh and renowned agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan.

Chaudhary Charan Singh is credited for zamindari abolition and land consolidation in Western Uttar Pradesh which, in turn, brought increased income in the sugarcane belt, whereas Swaminathan is considered one among key figures for the Green Revolution ensuring food security for the country after decades of famine and droughts.

The SKM said that the Prime Minister had neither “honesty nor sincerity” and had indulged in a “poor vote- catching gimmick” intended to worsen farmers’ misery and had “used tokenism” to camouflage his services to big corporate forces  associated with foreign companies in farming.

“In the context of forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections, the Modi Govt. is indulging in many forms of tokenism to divert attention of people from its policies which are creating thankless conditions of farming, reducing large sections of peasantry to destitution and is undermining food security of the country by handing over markets, storage, food processing, food distribution and control to corporate forces linked with giant TransNational seed, fertiliser and food chain companies,” read a statement by SKM.

It denounced PM Modi for failing to solve the crisis of farmers of India. “Farmers are reeling under pressure of high input cost and poor govt infrastructure and services in agriculture, including seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, electricity, diesel, irrigation, machinery, post-harvest facilities, storage and cold storage facilities, marketing yards, food processing facilities, marketing,” it added.

It also reminded the Modi government of its failure to implement the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 during its past 10 years, and instead had “forced land acquisition without adequate, timely compensation and handing over of agricultural land for non-farming purposes to land sharks, real estate agents and big corporate Companies. It imposed very high and rising debts including high interest microfinance and usurious debts on the poor and landless; mortgaging and distress sale of land and other assets.”

Hannan Mollah, core committee member, SKM, told NewsClick over the phone that the policy of corporate penetration in cropping and marketing had been enforced brutally during the past 10 years.

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party election manifesto said “it will enhance the profitability in agriculture, by ensuring a minimum of 50% net profit, cheaper agriculture inputs and credit”. But on February 15, 2015 it filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it was not possible to increase the MSP for food grains and other farm produce to input cost plus 50% as it would “distort the market”, he said.

Mollah said: “We reiterate our demand for legal guarantee and procurement of all crops at a MSP of C-2 Comprehensive cost + 50%. We want to remind the Modi govt, that Dr MS Swaminathan had recommended “50% hike in weighted average cost of production”.

The farmer leader said SKM also reiterates the demand of reduction by half of all input costs with restoration of fertiliser subsidy, debt waiver for all farmers and agriculture workers, reduction in microfinance interest rates  to 4% at par with KCC (Kisan Credit Card) loans, no hike in electricity tariff, no to prepaid metres; 300 units free electricity to all rural households and shops, comprehensive insurance scheme for crops with loss assessment per plot of land, end to misery from stray cattle, punishment and Jail to main accused of Lakhimpur Carnage, Ajay Misra Teni.”

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