Kisan Mahapanchayat: Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmers' Unions that led around a one year-long agitation at Delhi borders and forced the government to withdraw the farm laws, hinted at launching a bigger movement against the government over their long-pending demands. SKM is holding 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' at Ramila Maidan in Delhi on Monday, to press for their various demands in front of the government.
Meeting with Union Minister
In a major development, a meeting took place between Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and a delegation of farmer leaders to achieve consensus over protesting farmers' demands.
After the meeting, farmer leader Darshan Pal said that a demand letter was given in the meeting with the Agriculture Minister. He added there will be a meeting of the farmers on April 30.
However, Pal asserted farmers will launch a bigger movement than 2020 to get their demands fullfilled. For this, he asked the farmers to prepare for the agitation in their respective states. Pal said, “United Kisan Morcha has been formed in every state. The preparations for the movement will start soon."
Farmers urge govt to fulfil 'written commitments'
Meanwhile, just five kilometers away from Parliament, thousands of farmers wearing turbans of different colors and styles gathered at the iconic Ramlila Maidan demanding that the government fulfil the "written commitments" it made to them in December 2021.
The farmers' demands include a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), withdrawal of cases registered against farmers, compensation to families of farmers who died during the protest, pension, debt waiver, and withdrawal of the Electricity Bill. Avik Saha, national president, Jai Kisan Andolan said the central government has failed to meet the demands of farmers despite written commitments.
"Thousands of cases against farmers remain pending. More than 750 farmers lost their lives during the protest and compensation to their families are unpaid. And there are several other demands which have not been met," he said.
Baldev Singh, a 47-year-old farmer from Moga district of Punjab, said some members of the SKM had "gone astray" due to different reasons and the mahapanchayat also aims at bringing them together.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Morcha had said that SKM leaders would speak about the impact of government policies on farmers, agricultural and migrant labour, rural workers, unemployment, rising cost of living and declining purchasing power.
While announcing the repeal of three farm laws in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to suggest measures to make MSP available to farmers across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture had in July last year also issued a gazette notification announcing the setting up of a committee in this regard.
The notification said the committee would suggest measures to make MSP available to farmers across the country, promote natural farming and prepare a comprehensive strategy for crop diversification, among others.
The Centre had also kept three posts for members of SKM. The Morcha, however, had rejected the committee, saying there was no mention of making a law on MSP in the committee's agenda.
Every year, the central government announces a minimum support price for 22 agricultural crops and a fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane. This is done so that the farmers growing these crops should receive a minimum price for what they produce. But the government is not bound to purchase all the crops on the declared MSP.
The farmers cannot demand the MSP as a matter of right as there is no legal or statutory backing for this. The crops which the government procures from the farmers in significant amounts include rice, wheat and cotton. Public procurement stabilises the prices, with MSP acting as a benchmark for private buyers.
(With Agency input)
Read- Kisan Mahapanchayat: What are farmers' demands as they gather in Delhi again