Union Budget 2024: AIKS, SKM riled at being kept out of pre-budget discussion

The BJP-led NDA government has not invited either the SKM leadership or AIKS representatives for the upcoming consultations

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has a tough task ahead (photo: @FinMinIndia/X)
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has a tough task ahead (photo: @FinMinIndia/X)

NH Political Bureau

In a strong statement issued on Tuesday, 18 June, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has condemned the exclusion of key farmer representatives from the upcoming pre-Budget consultations scheduled for 21 June 2024 by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The consultations are part of the preparatory process for the Union Budget 2024–25, and would be expected to gather inputs from various stakeholders, including farmers' associations and agricultural economists.

AIKS, the largest organisation representing the agricultural citizenry of India, has historically been involved in discussions with the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to help determine minimum support prices (MSP) for both the rabi and kharif seasons.

Similarly, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led a historic struggle against the Modi government's three farm laws, has been actively submitting memoranda on agrarian issue and has been a prominent voice advocating for solutions to the ongoing agrarian crisis.

However, in a surprising turn of events, the BJP-led NDA government has not extended invitations to either the SKM leadership or the AIKS representatives for its upcoming consultations.

The AIKS expressed deep dissatisfaction with this decision, characterising it as a deliberate attempt to sideline the real representatives of farmers.

'The government is continuing to indulge in a farcical exercise by excluding the voices that truly represent the farmers,' a statement shared on X by the official AIKS handle reads.

It further demands that the government engage in meaningful dialogue with SKM leadership, emphasising the need for an open-minded approach.

The organisation also pointed to the recent electoral outcome, where the ruling party faced a significant defeat in 159 constituencies, as a sign that the government should reconsider its stance when it comes to the agrarian community.

The AIKS statement also warns the central government that failing to engage with farmers' representatives could lead to widespread mobilisation in protests across the country yet again.

'The arrogance displayed by the government must be shed. They need to learn from the decisive rebuff in the recent elections and call for talks with an open mind,' the statement asserts.

AIKS has signalled its readiness to escalate actions if their demands for inclusive consultations are not met.

As the date for the consultations approaches, the exclusion of significant farmer bodies like AIKS and SKM does raise questions about the inclusiveness and effectiveness of the NDA government’s pre-budget engagement process.

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