The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), which is supporting the NDA government, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revise its decision on increasing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) in food grains to ensure better dividends to farmers.
SSS chief Raju Shetty, who convened a two-day conclave at Khapoli in Maharashtra, told The Indian Express, “I still have hopes that Modi will consider our demand for raising the MSP by at least 16 per cent to ensure farmers recover the production cost in the agriculture sector.”
The Modi government recently cleared around two per cent hike in the MSP.
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“If railway ministry feels it is necessary to hike the fares to 14% to make its viable, then we expect agriculture ministry should raise the MSP for farmers to 16% to ensure they recover their production cost. The farmers’ investment needs to be factored in with rising fertiliser prices and overall inflation,” Shetty said.
“They have taken the right decision to increase the import duty on raw sugar from 18 to 40 per cent, which will certainly help in stabilising the sugar industry and benefit sugarcane farmers. We now expect them to extend it to farmers cultivating foodgrains by raising the MSP,” Shetty said.
“If the farmers’ demands are not met, we will agitate across Maharashtra. The two per cent hike on MSP for foodgrains is not acceptable to us. It should be put on hold and revised again. The Centre can take some more time to work out the cost,” he said.
“On July 1, we are meeting Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh to discuss the MSP policy. If the Centre heeds our demand, it is alright. Otherwise, we will take to streets,” Shetty said.
“We are not here to strike any power bargain with the BJP. We took a conscious decision to join the BJP-led alliance based on our common agreement on farmers’ policy. I met Modi twice before the Lok Sabha elections. We extensively discussed the farmers’ policies.
During the meeting, I realised Modi was sincere in pursuing farmers’ welfare. We also discussed how the recommendations made by M S Swaminathan that have been on hold should be implemented. Modi had given his consent,” the SSS chief said.
Shetty said the leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, Vinod Tawde of the BJP, had expressed his desire to come at the conclave, where he promised that the SSS’s concerns would be conveyed to Centre. “He urged us not to agitate,” he said.
Tawde said, “The union agriculture minister has agreed to meet Shetty on July 1. I assured them all issues would be discuss and resolved.”
Last week, BJP’s ally Shiv Sena was extremely upset with the Modi government for fare hike in railways. The Centre had to partially roll back the fare hike for local commuters in Mumbai.