The Kisan Mukti bills on farmers’ right to freedom from debt and guaranteed remunerative prices for their agricultural produce are all set to be tabled in Lok Sabha on August 3 as private member bills, ahead of the Jail Bharo Satyagraha to be held on August 9. The bills have been introduced in Rajya Sabha on July 20.
“The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of more than 180 farmers’ and agricultural workers’ organisations, moves the bills that have been formulated during the Kisan Sansad,” said Hannan Mollah, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), one of the leading organisations in AIKSCC, while talking to Newsclick.
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The two private member bills – The Farmers Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018 and Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018 – were adopted during the Kisan Mukti Sansad (Farmers’ Liberation Parliament) which was held in Delhi in November 2017.
Communist Party of India (Marxist), [CPI(M)], lawmaker KK Ragesh, who is also the national joint secretary of AIKS, has introduced the bills in Rajya Sabha on July 20. Raju Shetty of Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana will present the same in Lok Sabha on August 3, added Mollah.
During the Kisan Sansad, the farmers across the country had come together in Delhi to protest against the anti-farmer policies of the BJP-led Centre. “The issues that have been addressed in the bills were adopted during the Kisan Sansad. After that, AIKSCC held roundtables and discussions across the country to incorporate and consolidate various inputs in the bill. We also sought inputs from experts, and prepared the final draft,” he added.
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In a joint meeting held on April 25, of the AIKSCC and the members of various political parties, 21 parties had extended their support to the bills. They are: CPI, CPI(M), NCP, JDU-S, INC (Congress), RJD, BJD, Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress, AAP, RLD, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, Swabhimani Paksha, TDP, Samajwadi Party, BSP, DMK, AIADMK, Janata Dal (S) and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha.
The Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill, 2018, (Kisan Karzadari Mukti Vidheyak, 2018) intends to confer a right on the indebted farmers to obtain an immediate one-time complete loan waiver, and a right of all farmers to obtain institutional credit. The Bill includes a provision for farmers suffering from natural disasters or distress to obtain protection from the debt trap. The bill also has the subsequent constitution of a National Commission and State Commissions with powers to pass awards and recommend appropriate measures for the relief of farmers from disasters and distress and matters concerned therewith and incidental thereto.
While, the Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill, 2018, (Krishi Upaji Laabhkari Nyoontam Samarthan Moolya Guarantee Vidhayak, 2018) seeks to confer a right on all farmers to obtain guaranteed remunerative Minimum Support Prices (MSP) with minimum 50 per cent profit margin over the comprehensive cost of production, upon the sale of agricultural commodities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
National and State Farmers Agricultural Costs and Remunerative Price Guarantee Commissions – autonomous bodies to determine the comprehensive cost of production of the agricultural produce plus at least 50 per cent profit margin as a Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices of all agricultural commodities – have also been proposed in the Bill.
Earlier, during the winter session of the parliament, KK Ragesh had demanded a total waiving of the farmers’ loans. He also had proposed the formation of National Debt Relief Commission for farmers.
“We have witnessed the mounting agrarian crisis. And, considering this agrarian crisis, it is extremely important to write off all the loans taken by the farmers. A National Debt Relief Commission for farmers has also to be set up,” Ragesh had said in Rajya Sabha on December 29, 2017.
Though the Centre had promised farmers a profit of 50 per cent in addition to the cost of production, that hadn’t had to happen, Ragesh said in Parliament. “The cheaper credit is also benefiting only the big agribusiness companies and not the farmers. Much hyped fasal beema has resulted in pocketing of Rs 21,500 crores by the beema companies. And the disposed of amount is meagre as Rs 714 crores.”
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“We are so eager to write off the corporate loans in the name of book adjustment, but there is no book adjustment for farmers,” he added.
As per the 2015 data of the NCRB, around 12,602 farmers have committed suicides, which is an increase of 42 per cent. The year 2015 registered an increase of 42,000 suicide by the farmers. During the debate, Ragesh asked why majority suicides by the farmers are taking place in BJP-ruled states.
On August 9, the anniversary of historic Quit India Movement, the farmers and workers across the country will engage in the 'Jail Bharo Satyagraha' as per the call of AIKS to mark their protest against the anti-farmer and anti-workers policies of the BJP-led Centre. On the same day, AIKS’s campaign of collecting signatures of 10 crore farmers will culminate at district headquarters across the country as the farmers hand the memorandum over with charter of their demands to District Magistrates, while they ask the BJP to quit India: ‘Bharat Chhodo’.