Punjab Excluded From Central Committee on Agriculture, More Representation for Pro-BJP Farmer Leaders Than SKM
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Common
The Central government's decision to exclude Punjab institutions and state government representations from a committee on agricultural issues has been called out by farmer leaders.
The committee, headed by former agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal, will have 26 members, including farmer representatives, agri-scientists and agri-economists, as well as officials from Central and state governments, a notification issued by the Ministry of Agriculture said.
The committee has announced the names of the representatives of other farmer organisations but has not mentioned the names of representatives of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearheaded the one-year-long agitation at Delhi borders and forced the government to withdraw the farm laws.
While announcing the repeal of three farm laws in November last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to discuss the farmers' demand for a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP).
While representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Odisha and Karnataka feature on the committee, no representative from Punjab was included.
Additionally, the Central government has also included representation from premier agricultural universities in the country, including Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, National Institute of Agricultural Extension, and Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University, Jabalpur. Even here, Punjab Agricultural University didn't feature.
SKM leaders Darshan Pal and Yogendra Yadav have outrightly rejected the committee.
"The chairman of the committee is the same person who had conceptualised the three farm laws and advocated for them till the very end. Though the Prime Minister had announced that a committee would be formed in November last year, it was not notified, and we feared that the committee would have representation from amongst those who would not be able to withstand government pressure and succumb to their desires" they said.
They further said that only three SKM members were included in the committee. At the same time, five farmer leaders who spoke in favour of the government on the issue of farm laws have been included in the committee.
"Even the agenda of the committee does not include provisions for making laws on mandatory MSP for all crops," they said.
Raghav Chadha, Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, called the committee Bharatiya Janata Party's "cynical and shortsighted bungling on agriculture."
"By deliberately excluding Punjab, the Centre has insulted our people. Punjab is the birthplace of the Green Revolution, and the food bowl of India has not been allowed to have governmental representation, while bureaucrats from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha have all been given spots in the 26-member committee," Chadha said.
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