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RSS-Affiliated Farmers’ Union Clears Stand on MSP, Wants Govt to Criminalise Cheaper Purchase

Farmers protest against the new farm laws at Singhu border near Delhi, on December 4, 2020. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)

Farmers protest against the new farm laws at Singhu border near Delhi, on December 4, 2020. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)

The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh also demanded that the government set up special agri courts to hear matters of dispute between farmers and private buyers instead of the current provision which stipulates that such disputes be directed to the local SDM.

Breaking its silence on the ongoing farmers’ agitation, the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) on Friday said it was in favour of ensuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) in government and private-run mandis, and making procurement of food grains below MSP a criminal offence.

A major reason why farmer unions on protest at Delhi borders have been demanding a complete rollback of the new laws is that these don't carry a provision to ensure that private players don’t buy farmers' produce below the MSP.

The BKS also demanded that the government set up special agri courts to hear matters of dispute between farmers and private buyers instead of the current provision which stipulates that such disputes be directed to the local SDM.

"It doesn't matter where a farmer sells his produce. In private mandis or in Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMCs) (state-run mandis) or on the roads. Our objective is that farmers should always get their MSP. Buying from them below the MSP should be made a criminal offence," said BKS general secretary Badri Narayan Choudhary in a press conference on Friday. Choudhary said that the BKS was the first farmers’ union that had started the agitation against the union government after it unveiled the three farm bills. He said that the BKS had organised protests in nearly 3,000 tehsils across the country and held consultations with farmers through 20,000 gram samitis on the issue of farm bills.

But BKS had chosen to stay away from the current agitation because it had turned violent, Choudhary alleged.

"BKS is striving to ensure that farmers get their MSP and in a transparent and time-bound manner. We have a 40-year history of working for farmers. But we always keep our movements non-violent… So we are working for the same goals in our own manner," Choudhary added.

Responding to a question on the interaction between the BKS and the government, he said that the government had held no consultations with it before introducing the bills.

Choudhary said that the BKS was not only fighting to get farmers their dues, it had also stepped up pressure on the government on the redressal mechanism. "The current law stipulates that in case of any dispute between the farmer and the buyer, the authority will be the DM and the SDM. We all know how farmers are scared to enter even the office of these bureaucrats who are always busy with a long queue of visitors. We have demanded special courts for the farmers," Choudhary said.

He urged both the protesting farmers and the government to try and meet midway in order to end the deadlock. "If the farmers say they don't want anything less than the repeal of these three laws, it's not going to be fruitful. Also the government should understand the concerns of the farmers and meet them midway. That is the only solution," the BKS general secretary said.

On Friday, the farmers' agitation on the border of the national capital entered the ninth day. A day earlier, union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had held a seven-hour long meeting with leaders of the protesting farmers' unions. After the meeting, the minister hinted that the government was willing to make certain changes in the farm laws. However, the farmers have been demanding that the government take back these laws and hold wider consultations with them. Another round of meeting between the agriculture minister and the farmers is expected on Saturday.