The acts in question seek to lift the restrictions on farmers to sell their produce only in government-regulated mandis, known as APMCs. They also lift the limit on stock-holding.
In Punjab, farmers have planned for 'Rail Roko' and 'Chakka Jam' protests across the state. (Pic: SAD)
Bharat Bandh: Farmers’ unions from parts of the country have given a call for Bharat Bandh on Friday (September 25). They are protesting against the farm bills passed recently in Parliament. The opposition parties including the Congress, AAP, Akali Dal, and TMC had objected to the bills terming them anti-farmers. The protests which initially began in Punjab and Haryana are now gaining ground in various parts of the country. Reports suggest that over 250 farmer outfits are protesting against the bills (now acts).
Among the farmers organisations supporting the protests are The Bharatiya Kisan Union, All India Farmers Union, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, All India Kisan Mahasangh, and Yogendra Yada’s Swarajya. Farmers’ organisations from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have also extended their support to the Bandh. In Punjab, farmers have planned for ‘Rail Roko’ and ‘Chakka Jam’ protests across the state.
The Congress too has announced that it will run a nation-wide campaign against the farm acts.
The acts in question seek to lift the restrictions on farmers to sell their produce only in government-regulated mandis, known as APMCs. They also lift the limit on stock-holding. While a section of people including agro-economists call it a much needed-reform, farmers and political parties claim that it was done to allow private mandis that may offer lucrative prices — as they will not have to pay any taxes — for first few years but over time when government infrastructure is finished, private players will exploit the farmers by manipulating the markets and price. It is this fear that has triggered massive protests by farmers in the country.
The farmers now want the Centre to insert a clause of guaranteed minimum support price or MSP in the Acts. While the government has repeatedly assured that the MSP won’t be affected, the farmer organisations and political parties have refused to buy that assurance and want a written guarantee in the Act.
Recently, former Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said that the biggest fear among the farmers was that these new laws were a precursor to doing away with MSP. He said that if the government really wanted to assure the farmers that minimum support price will not be touched then it can insert that one line in the act. “Tomorrow, they can say that FCI will no longer procure or you can sell to private buyers who will always pay you less than MSP,” the former minister said.
Similar arguments have been made by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal.