Farmers in Punjab protesting against the three recently enacted farm laws will be reaching the National Capital on November 26 and 27 as part of their ”Delhi Chalo” march call. They are going ahead with the march despite Punjab Vidhan Sabha rejecting the three laws by a unanimous resolution and passing three farm amendment Bills removing the state from the ambit of the central legislations.
The march call, initially given by The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) — a body of more than 200 farmers’ organisations across the country — has garnered support from nearly 500 farmers’ bodies. While farmers have lifted blockade from all the tracks and agreed to let all trains run in Punjab, there has been no relent in their protest against the central laws. The Indian Express explains why.
Why are Punjab’s farmers still protesting despite state passing Bills negating the central agri laws?
The three Bills passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha underscore that agriculture, agricultural markets, and land is the primary legislative domain of the state. Seeking to address one of the main grievances of the protesting farmers, the Bills, among other things, make minimum support price (MSP) a legal provision.
Farmers say they are happy with the state passing the three Bills, but point out that the proposed state legislations are at best a symbolic political statement against the Centre’s farm laws and may remain entangled in legal complications. The Bills can become law only if they get Presidential assent, which they say, is highly unlikley.
“We are protesting because the central laws have legal value. The state’s Bills do not have the same legal validity. We will not sit till the time the anti-farmer laws are not revoked or a Bill related to MSP is not passed by the Centre. Agriculture is a state subject and Centre could not create confusion by passing laws on subjects in state list,” says Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Dakuanda). He says that now the fight is not only for the farmers of Punjab but for the farmers of the entire country and that is why we are protesting “despite state passing its own Bills”.
Farmers feel that by enacting the three laws, the Centre has made a move to end the MSP system. While MSP was never a legal provision, but has remained a long practiced agricultural exercise in favour of farmers.
The Farmer’s Produce and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment Bill 2020 ensure procurement at MSP only, but the Bill covers only two crops — wheat and paddy.
How many farmers from Punjab will participate in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march?
Farmers owing allegiance to the 30 farm unions who have continued with their protest since September 24 in the state will be marching to Delhi. “We are estimating 1-1.5 lakh men, women and children from Punjab will be taking part in the march,” says Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary, BKU (Ugrahan), one of the biggest farmers’ bodies in Punjab.
BKU (Dakaunda)’s Jagmohan Singh add that from his organization alone “10,000 activists and 1,000 tractor trolleys will be leaving for Delhi” where not less than 1.5 lakh farmers from Punjab will stage a sit-in. He said the farm outfits will review their sit-in after a week.
What has Centre to say about its laws and why are farmers not ready to trust such assurances?
The Centre claims that its three farms laws will transform Indian agriculture and attract private investment while liberating farmers by giving them the freedom to sell their produce anywhere in country. The three laws do not say anything on MSP being a legal provision.
It has been learnt that Punjab had urged the Government of India to make a law under which Centre would procure wheat and paddy from Punjab according to the proposal of cash credit Limit (CCL) sent by the state for coming one decade. The Centre refused to accept this proposal, farmers say, claiming that it was a clear indication that the Government of India will eventually stop procuring the crops at MSP in coming few years. “If they cannot assure procurement for 10 years, how we can we trust the Centre’s statements that it will not stop procuring the wheat and paddy from Punjab?,” asked a senior official in Punjab government. The official said that if the Centre was sincere about its statement, then a law should be made on MSP. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
The farmers now say that they want assured price for all the crops and the Centre must come up with a law ensuring the same.
Can Punjab manage on its own the 30 to 32 million tonnes of grains (wheat and paddy) which it procures for the central pool on MSP?
Experts say that Punjab can do it for some years but only by putting in place an efficient procurement system as there is a huge demand for wheat and paddy in Indian markets as well as in several countries. They said that with this, Punjab also needs to shift to other crops gradually as per the demand of the domestic and international markets.
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