DAY 3: AGITATING FARMERS’ RESOLVE HARDENS ON PARLIAMENT STREET:
Government yet to respond to thousands of farmers and farm workers
– BJP President assures that if elected to power, his party would insure farmers’ income
New Delhi, March 20, 2013: On the third day of a Kisan Khet Mazdoor Mahapanchayat witnessing thousands of farmers sitting in on Parliament Street in New Delhi, BJP President Rajnath Singh came to express his support to the cause of farmers. He assured the overflowing crowds that if his party comes to power, farmers income will be insured. One of the main demands of the Mahapanchayat is an assured income for all farm households. Protecting land rights of farming communities is another important demand of the gathering, which is a historical new formation of people’s movements (NAPM) joining hands with farmers’ unions under the banner of ICCFM (Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements). The formation is pointing out that economic well-being of farm households, measured as income accruing to cultivators should be a main parameter by which the government’s performance and interventions in agriculture be measured. To that effect, a Farmers’ Income Guarantee Act, which will consist of a slew of efficient measures, needs to be enacted.
“The amended land acquisition bill in its new avataar is unacceptable to us. The Parliamentary Standing Committee’s recommendations have been ignored by the government, in its eagerness to support corporations and their profit-mongering. The amended Bill falls short of protecting rural livelihoods and basic productive resources needed for such livelihoods. Why is protection of agri-livelihoods or food security not public purpose when agri-processing is public purpose? When official surveys are showing that non-agricultural sectors have no potential for employment generation and growth, how can the government continue to displace millions from farming?”, said a statement issued by the Mahapanchayat.
Alluding to the Swaminathan Commission’s report that expressly recommended that agriculture should not be viewed only as a function of production and productivity, but that farmers’ economic well-being should be a core concern, farmer leaders demanded that the government bring in a farmers’ income policy and legislation which guarantees dignified incomes for all farm households. The farmers said that the MSP mechanism has clearly failed in protecting farmers’ interests and that they demand fair and remunerative prices, which leave them a profit margin over the cost of cultivation.
Speaking earlier, Rajnath Singh, BJP President said that he was aware of the concerns around the land acquisition bill; he further added that BJP was keen on converting India into “world’s agriculture capital”. Speakers also highlighted that ecological farming, that protects natural resources, reduces cost of cultivation and removes poisons from our food system have to be promoted by the government.
Leaders of various political parties extended their support and solidarity to the demands of the Mahapanchayat, including CPI and CPM. Some Parliamentarians of the ruling Congress too expressed their concern with the amended land acquisition bill, reflecting the concerns of the gathering.
Basudeb Acharia, MP of CPI (MP) and Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture said that the government’s land acquisition bill was unacceptable and keeping out 15 legislations out of its purview is meaningless. He also pointed out that FDI is not for the benefit of traders or farmers and it will only increase corporate monopolies over our agriculture and food. He also said that a separate agriculture budget would be useful and said that the Parliament should take up a two day debate on the issues plaguing agriculture.
For more information, contact:
Madhuresh, NAPM: 9818905316; Dharmendar Kumar: 9219691168