Farmers protesting at the borders of the national capital for over two months will return home if the government was to include a guarantee through a law for purchase of their crops at an administered price or MSP, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. SAD, the oldest partner of BJP, had quit the NDA government over the three contentious farm reform laws.
Participating in the discussion on the Budget for 2021-21, Naresh Gujral (SAD) said the farmers are on the street because they feel the market will be snatched from them. The minimum support price (MSP) based procurement of crops like wheat and paddy by government agencies provides market at the doorstep of farmers, he said, adding the new laws provide for private mandis to come in.
"They (farmers) can take production risk but they cannot take marketing risk," he said. "After these laws, they will have to go to private mandis and will not get MSP." "Who is procuring at MSP? Only state agencies, not private procurers," he said. Farmers want MSP to be enshrined in the law, he added. The Prime Minister has promised that MSP will stay but what is stopping the government from including it in the law, Gujral asked.
The government should guarantee MSP for everything they procure, he said, adding that use of force, water canons and barb fences will not deter the farmers. "Today every farmer is saying 'sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-qatil mein hai'," he said. "These farmers will go home only when they can say 'Fateh, Fateh, Fateh'." Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders since November demanding the repeal of three new agriculture laws that they say will end the MSP based procurement of crops like wheat and paddy by the government and usher in big corporates into the farm sector.
They have rejected the government's offer to suspend the reforms for 18 months and have not joined talks after the 11th round of negotiations ended last month. The government has defended the farm laws, saying they are aimed at empowering the small and marginal farmers, who make up for more than two-thirds of the farming community in the country.
It has toughened its stance against the protesters following violence during a tractor rally on Republic Day last month. Three main protest sites have been fortified with concrete barricades, concertina wires and long metal spikes. Gujral said ruling party spokespersons abuse farmers whose children serve in the armed forces. "This demotivates them," he added.