Why SKM has decided to boycott MSP Committee, explain farm leaders Hannan Mollah and Rakesh Tikait
The AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, who was part of the deliberation, refused to be part of any discussion on the MSP with the government, saying that the Committee is nothing but ‘tamasha'
A day after the Modi government formed a committee on the Minimum Support Price, the umbrella body of over 40 farmers unions – Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) gave a clarion call to boycott the committee arguing that its formation is just an eyewash.
Explaining the rationale behind the boycott, the SKM, in a statement, after a prolonged meeting on Tuesday, said, “Morcha unanimously decided that unless the government clarifies the jurisdiction and terms of reference of this committee, there is no point to nominate a representative of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha to this committee”.
The All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah, who was part of the deliberation, refused to be part of any discussion on the MSP with the government, saying – the committee is nothing but a ‘tamasha’.
Explaining why the SKM has decided not to join the Committee, Mollah said the decision was taken collectively after talking to several farm leaders, big and small unions active in different parts of the country.
Former Lok Sabha MP, Mollah flagged issues which pushed the farm leaders to reject the committee, which by Delhi watchers is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the farming communities in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana – where assembly elections are due this year and the next – by the Modi government.
It is important to note here that the decision to form the committee on MSP was followed by the nomination of West Bengal Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar, for the post of the country's Vice President as the NDA candidate. Dhankhar also comes from a farmer family from Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district.
Dissecting “political goals and gains” behind the Government’s move, Mollah highlighted:
The committee has no sanctity since its recommendations will not be legally bound.
There is no word on the implementation of the Swaminathan report
Farmer leaders included in the committee are known for their pro-RSS and pro-corporate stand in the agriculture sector.
Appointment of former agriculture secretary, Sanjay Agarwal as the chairman of the Committee has antagonised farmers a lot.
Highlighting the anti-farmers stand taken by Agarwal during the one-year-long farmers' protest, Mollah asked how farmers can trust a person who maligned their movement and drafted the farm bill.
Blaming Agarwal for spreading lies, Mollah said, “When the government decided to form a committee in March, we wrote to them, seeking jurisdiction and terms of reference of the committee but the government did not reply. Yet, Agarwal said that the formation of the committee was stalled due to SKM”.
What will the farmers get from talking to this person who is the chairman of the committee now, asked Mollah.
Pointing out “the ill intention of the government behind the formation of the committee”, the AIKS leader said that the “five so called-farm leaders who have been put in the Committee are known for their anti-farmers, pro-corporate stand. Ideologically, they are pro-RSS/BJP.”
Adding to what Mollah said, Dr Darshan Pal, head of the Punjab based Krantikari Kisan Union (KKU) said that the government is actually trying to put dust in the eyes of the farmers. "Formation of the committee on MSP is nothing but an attempt to deflect attention from the real crisis faced by the farmers," said Pal.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait echoed what Mollah said, adding, “No representative from the BKU will take part in the meeting of the committee.” Going a step further, Tikait, who was in Bihar when the committee was announced, demanded that the Parliament should pass the MSP guarantee law.
Addressing a press conference in the Khagaria district of Bihar, Tikait said the committee is full of people who advocated for the three farm bills passed by the Modi government in 2020.
Commonly referred to as the Farm Laws of 2020, the laws were as follows:
1) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act gave freedom to the farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis).
2) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act gave farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce.
3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act sought to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and did away with the imposition of stock holding limits.