Farmer leaders, SKM flag Modi govt’s nonchalant attitude for refusal to participate in committee on MSP
“Can any committee be formed over the phone or serious issues such as MSP be discussed over the phone,” AIKS general secretary and member of SKM core committee Hannan Mollah said
Why has the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions – refused the Modi government’s proposal to participate in forming a committee on MSP, one of the main demands put forth by it?
According to farmers’ leaders and SKM insiders, the reason for this is “impropriety” and “conning attitude” of the government.
National Herald called some farmers’ leaders to understand as to why the proposal was turned down by SKM.
Raising “propriety issue”, AIKS general secretary and member of SKM core committee Hannan Mollah said, “The real intention is not to discuss the MPS or form a committee on MSP but to divert attention and send out a message that the Modi government is a well-wisher of the farmers.”
“Can any committee be formed over the phone or serious issues such as MSP be discussed over the phone? The government was sitting over its own commitment for months. Then all of sudden, it woke up from slumber and said, let us discuss MSP. How can this happen?”
“MSP is a serious issue. It needs serious discussion,” he added.
It is worth noting here that Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, on March 22, called BKU leader Yuddhvir Singh and asked him to suggest “two to three names from the SKM for the committee to be formed by the Government of India.”
In response to the call made by the Agriculture Secretary, the SKM wrote an email on March 24 seeking crucial details about the committee: its members, its mandate, procedures etc but the government did not reply.
The letter was resent on March 30 but again, the government chose not to reply.
Finally, on April 1, SKM made the issue public and issued a statement, noting, “SKM expects that the committee must be formed on clear and agreed terms and demands a clarification on the details of the committee. Unless we are fully aware of the nature and agenda of this committee, it would not be worthwhile to participate in any such committee”.
Attacking the government for inaction on MSP, a farmer leader associated with the BKU said over the phone, “Citing Model Code of Conduct (MCC), the government sat over the guarantee-letter, did not fulfill its own commitment, and tried to manipulate the farmers during the poll campaign. Now they expect us to form a committee over the phone and take the discussion forward”.
On December 9, 2021, the government had given in writing its intention to form a committee on MSP, after which SKM called off a one-year long agitation.
“MCC does not prohibit implementation of such a pre-announced decision,” said the BKU leader.
Apart from “propriety” and “non-serious approach” to reach out to farmers and start a discussion on MSP, relevance of the recommendations is a big cause of concern for the farmers’ unions, particularly among BKU and unions having their support-base in Punjab.
A section of farmers feel disenchanted after the stunning victory of BJP in Uttar Pradesh and AAP’s performance in Punjab.
“As long as the recommendations are not binding, there is no point in indulging in discussion,” said a farmers’ leader associated with a Left leaning farmers’ union from Punjab.