Even as agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal reiterated the government's willingness for negotiations with the agitating farmers, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said they will intensify the nationwide protest against the three contentious farm laws.
Shortly after the ministers pointed out the changes the government was prepared to make in the farm laws to accommodate farmers' grievances at a press conference in Delhi, AIKSCC said the suggestions make for flimsy promises on MSP. The government has only agreed to transfer some rights to the states to register private mandis, traders and contracts, to levy some taxes on private mandis in the name of parity with existing mandis and allow the right to move Civil Courts, while asserting that the pro-corporate Farm Acts will continue, they said. "In short, Central government is saying some reforms can be done by states. Question arises, what is the need for Central Acts in Agriculture - only to promote Corporates?" AIKSCC asks.
According to the farmer organisations, the government presentation, while repeatedly asserting that the farm laws will be helpful to farmers, completely avoids answering farmers' reasons for opposing the laws. "These Acts explicitly give legal rights to corporates and MNCs and say that the government will promote them in establishing their own agricultural mandis and engage Indian farmers in contracts. On one hand the government mandis will perish and on the other farmers will be ruined. The Acts allow sale of costly inputs and purchase at the cheapest rates by the companies, rates to be settled through e-NAMs and not MSP. The corporates will control storage, processing, high profit processed food markets. The Acts now also allow hoarding and black marketing and indicate winding up PDS (public distribution system). The claim on land security to farmers is a total bluff as the provision of mortgaging their land exists in the Contract Act," AIKSCC says in a statement.
On the promise of MSP, the farmer organisations said it does not address the farmers' concern on MSP as they wanted it to be declared for all crops as per Swaminathan Commission formula of C2+50 per cent and there be a government guaranteed mechanism of purchase and intervention from all farmers at that rate. "AIKSCC reiterates that the farmers refuse to become bound in contracts to companies. They refuse to give up their land and their Constitutional rights for safety from exploitation by Corporates, Indian and foreign. These laws precisely expose them to such exploitation. The government has shown its extremely insensitive face to farmers of India by rejecting their demand. Obviously, the Govt is serving Corporate Interests and is not concerned about farmers, despite the hardship they are facing by remaining in cold under the open sky," the statement says.
The organisation says they are determined to continue this stand-off indefinitely, and more and more farmers are joining at all borders now including at Palwal and Ghazipur. "On 12th the Jaipur-Delhi Highway will be blocked and farmer organizers will also make all toll plazas open and free for commuters. On the call of AIKSCC continuous protest dharnas shall be started in all mandis, all districts and state capitals. Delhi too will see large protests by citizens of the capital," AIKSCC says.