Unhappy with MSP hike, farmers to march to Delhi

A section of farmers’ groups have announced four months of agitations ending with a march to Delhi, in protest against the government’s minimum support prices for kharif crops, which, they said, were based on a lower calculation than what was recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

Terming the Centre’s MSP announcements a “historic betrayal” and “blatant fraud on farmers”, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said it would hold 400 protest meetings across the country as a counter to the 40 meetings Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to hold to highlight the MSP hike.

‘Old formula’

“The Modi government’s MSP for kharif is based on the same formula of A2 + FL [actual paid out expenses plus imputed family labour costs] that was given by the Manmohan Singh government for rabi. This is entirely different from the demand of C2 [comprehensive costs] + 50%, which was also promised by the Prime Minister,” said AIKSCC convener V.M. Singh, pointing out that the Swaminathan Commission’s more comprehensive formula — C2 — included land-related input costs.

The AIKSCC is a banner organisation of over 180 farmers’ groups. It held its working group and National Council meetings on Friday.

The first item on the protest agenda is a black-flag demonstration and march to Parliament Street on July 20.

That is also the day the two Bills drafted by the AIKSCC at farmers’ fora over the last year are scheduled to be introduced in Parliament. While one Bill mandates a comprehensive farm loan waiver programme, the other provides a legal guarantee to MSPs. The AIKSCC is also demanding a special session of Parliament to discuss and pass these two Bills.

Procurement woes

“There is no plan to ensure procurement even for the crops for which MSP has been announced,” said Mr. Singh.

On August 9, the anniversary of the Quit India movement, the farmers’ groups plan to oppose policies that they say favour multinational companies at the cost of domestic farmers. The protests would culminate in a march to Delhi, he said.

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