Budget 2024: Farmers' union points to 'backdoor entry' of repealed farm laws
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has labelled the budget pro-corporate and urged people to burn copies of the budget speech
In a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government for proposing foreign investment in the agriculture sector in the interim Budget 2024-25, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the largest body of farmers' unions in India, has labelled it a pro-corporate budget and urged people to burn copies of the speech on 3 February.
Presenting the last budget of the Modi government before the Lok Sabha polls in April-May, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman argued, "To encourage sustained foreign investment, we are negotiating bilateral investment treaties with our foreign partners, in the spirit of ‘first develop India’."
Describing the proposal as a "backdoor entry for the three black Farm Acts" that the Modi government was forced to repeal owing to the impact of the farmers' struggle, the umbrella body of farm unions said, "SKM will vehemently oppose this proposal and ensure it is not implemented".
"This is a disturbing reference that denigrates the status of India as a sovereign country with no 'foreign partners'. The finance minister shall explain who these 'foreign partners' are and drop the same from the budget speech," said the SKM.
Stating that the national economy has become vulnerable and the Modi government is not ready to tax the wealthy, the SKM drew a comparison between the UPA regime and the NDA regime.
"In 2014-15, the net liability of India was Rs 56 lakh crore, and in 2022-23, the liability reached Rs161 lakh crore... It denotes the gross mismanagement of the economy by the BJP-led government," said the SKM. The farmers' body also criticised the Modi government for not proposing any measures to tackle rising unemployment.
It is noteworthy that the interim Budget for 2024-25 is widely seen as an economic manifesto for the BJP, in which the Modi government has proposed the largest allocation for defense and the lowest for agriculture.
While presenting the budget, Sitharaman claimed that the PM Kisan Sampada Yojana (scheme for agro-marine processing and development of agro-processing Clusters) has benefited 38 lakh farmers and assisted 2.4 lakh self-help groups (SHGs).