More than half a dozen Kisan organizations of Punjab and Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab have decided to unitedly fight against the ordinances issued by the Central government regarding the farm sector.
The Kisan organisations and the Punjab government strongly feel that the ordinances once passed by the Lok Sabha would dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) for various crops including wheat and paddy which are the main agricultural crops of Punjab. These organisations have also described the ordinances against the federal structure of the country which would curtail the autonomy of the state.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government has passed the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) ordinance, Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services ordinance, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) ordinance.
The government has maintained that these ordinances would enable the farmers to sell their produce anywherethe country and there would be no restrictions on the movement of the gains from one state to another. The Kisan Unions met Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in the chair and unanimously decided to fight against the onslaught of the Central government.
The Kisan Unions were of the view that these ordinances would end the age old Mandi system and it would further pave the way for the dismantling of the MSP regime. These ordinances are based on the recommendations of the Shanta Ram Committee report which has recommended disbanding of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). At present wheat and paddy are purchased at the MSP fixed by the Centre by the state agencies and are handed over to the FCI for the national food reserves.
The Kisan Unions who participated in the meeting with the Chief Minister included Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda – Jagmohan Singh Grewal, General Secretary), Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta President Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal- President Balbir Singh Rajewal), Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhpur Mehar Singh), Bharati Kisan Union (Mann led by Bhupinder Singh Mann), Bharati Kisan Union (Karantikari – President Surjit Singh), Bharati Kisan Union (Lakhowal Harinder Singh Grewal, General Secretary), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and All India Kisan Sabha (CPI).
Besides, the Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar also held meeting with the Congress legislators of the state to mobilise them against the ordinances.
The Kisan Unions were of the view that the ordinances and the proposed amendments were aimed at attending the federal structure of the country and the same must be withdrawn. The Kisan Unions were critical of the role being played by the Akali Dal led by Sukhbir Singh Badal and the BJP to protect their political interests. They felt that Harsimrat Badal should have come out of the central cabinet to protect the rights of the farmers. The farming sector was already passing through a crisis and the government wants to put them at the mercy of the corporate.
Captain Amarinder Singh who has also held all party meeting to oppose the ordinances has assured the Kisan Unions that he would stand by them and fight for the cause of the farmers. The cause of farmers was supreme to him, he has stated.
Captain Amarinder Singh has stated that he has written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking appointment for the all party delegation. He has assailed Sukhbir Singh Badal and Harsmirat Badal for their role in the fight for the cause of the farmers of Punjab. They were busy in retaining their alliance with the BJP and were least bothered about the fate of the farmers, he said.
The Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar has stated that the MSP would not be abolished and it would stay. But the Kisan organizations are not willing to believe this assurance by the Central Minister.
Sukhbir Singh Badal also assured that the MSP would stay and the Akali Dal would stand up by the farmers of Punjab to protect their rights.
Captain Amarinder Singh has assured that despite the double standards of the Akalis, he along with Kisan Unions would unitedly fight for the cause of the farmers and he would seek the support of Chief Ministers of other states in this battle.
The Kisan Unions also condemned the proposed amendments in the Electricity Act 2003 which was also anti-farmer. This would enable the government to end free supply of electricity to the farmers.
Captain Amarinder Singh said that he would not approve the amendments and would continue free power supply to the farmers in Punjab at all costs. As the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in 2022, the political scene in the state would hot up soon. Aam Aadmi party has also condemned the ordinances.
KS Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
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