Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “address the grievances of the farming community by holding direct talks with farmer organisations as well as all other stakeholders to come out with a solution which was acceptable to all”.
In a statement here, the SAD president said “farmer organisations have rightly rejected the Secretary-level talks offered by the agricultural ministry as a bureaucrat cannot offer anything on the table and had called the farm leaders only to explain the Centre’s point of view. The Prime Minister must understand that a lot of water has flown under the bridge. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana besides other places have taken to the path of agitation at grave personal risk to themselves during pandemic because they are convinced the three recently enacted Agri laws will destroy their future generations. In such a situation, leaving aside any middlemen, the Prime Minister should intervene and hold direct talks with farmers as well as other stakeholders, including all political parties. This interaction should be followed up by scrapping of the three agri laws and fresh legislation safeguarding the interests of farmers”.
Sukhbir said “as far as the SAD was concerned, it stood for a written assurance on continuation of Central government procurement of foodgrains as per MSP, followed by legislation making this a statutory law. We also stand for constitutional guarantees banning trade in foodgrains below the MSP”.
Sukhbir also announced that the SAD would initiate formation of a national pro-farmer front by coordinating with other like-mind regional parties to take this demand to its logical conclusion.
He said he would personally take up the cause of the farmers in Delhi by meeting representatives of like-minded regional parties soon.
Sukhbir said he would stress with like-minded parties that the agri Acts in their present form were aimed at safeguarding the interests of corporates and not farmers. Farmers need guaranteed MSP. The new agri Acts will leave farmers to the mercy of big corporations. Those with small landholdings cannot take their produce to far-off places or store it for months. In such a situation they will not have any bargaining power with private players”.
Requesting the Prime Minister “not to abrogate his duty towards farmers”, Sukhbir said “the PM should listen to ‘jan ki baat’ which he had also reflected as the chief minister of Gujarat when he had recommended making MSP a statutory right as head of consultative committee of Chief Ministers”.
The SAD president said it seemed that the NDA government was shifting its responsibility to private players. This has already sent a wrong message and the prices of maize and cotton have deflated and are being picked up by private players at manipulated prices much below the MSP. “I urge the Prime Minister to intervene and correct this imbalance which is tilted against the farmers immediately besides accepting the suggestions put up by the SAD to ensure justice is done to the annadaata”.
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