All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a coalition of about 200 farmer organisations, has called for a nationwide bandh (shutdown) on September 25 to protest against three agriculture related Bills introduced in the Parliament during the ongoing session.
The Bills are meant to replace the three ordinances - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 - promulgated by the Central government recently.
While the government terms the Bills as an attempt to reform agricultural markets and provide more pricing freedom to the farmers, AIKSCC sees it as pro-corporate and anti-farmer acts of the Central government. It also opposes the New Power Bill 2020 meant to privatise electricity distribution across India.
"The three Bills/ Acts will completely stop government procurement of crops, bringing to a grinding halt the price security for peasants as private mandis shall be set up and price and trade regulation of all cereals, all pulses, all oilseeds, onion and potato shall be removed from coverage under Essential Commodities," V M Singh, convenor, AIKSCC says.
Farmer leaders want the government to introduce an assurance of minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural crops in the Bill itself instead of giving verbal promises.
"World over, in all countries, barring none, price security for farmers' produce is always provided for by Government, not by companies, which only buy cheap to sell dear and earn huge profits. Crop once produced has to be sold, otherwise it will perish and lose value. BJP claims that food grain production has increased in India. More food grain requires more Government procurement, without which companies will bring down prices even faster. This BJP govt is batting strongly for the Corporate profit by opening up the entire food chain for them," the leaders allege.
The agriculture-related bills have seen farmer protests emerging from states like Haryana and Punjab. The issue has also seen a BJP ally and minister in the ruling front Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigning as the minister of food processing in protest against the 'anti-farmer' laws.