SPEAKING ON the Centre’s farm Bills for first time on Tuesday, Punjab MLA and former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu called them “draconian” and an “attack on federal structure of the country”.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, he also said that he will participate in a protest against the Bills in Amritsar on Wednesday.
Accusing the Centre of adopting a ‘use and throw’ policy for farmers, he said, “Farmers were used to bring Green Revolution and now thrown out of the window to make way for MNCs”.
“These Bills are the biggest attack on federal structure after GST…Farm Bill will kill farmers. Around 28,000 commission agents will be affected, five lakh jobs from markets will vanish. They are replacing the successful mandi model with the failed model of US and Europe. Income from grain markets to Punjab government was Rs 3600 crore and this year it increased to Rs 4,000 crore. All this income will vanish,” said Sidhu.
He asked, “How will farmers compete with the legal support that MNCs can hire while signing for contract farming. In case of any dispute with companies, your MLAs and MPs will be of no use. It will make the farmers helpless. These laws will also impact those who are not farmers. There would be inflation in food prices and MNCs will earn profit from this inflation. Electricity Amendment Bill is also on the way that would end subsidies for farmers.”
“Only protests, or approaching Supreme Court or President of India is not enough. All political parties, farmer unions should come up with a common minimum programme. We have ideology of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and he preached to be self-dependent. So we should be ready for every crisis. Everyone should contribute to make this in this common minimum programme and then same should be implemented.”
“My first suggestion for this common minimum programme is that every Punjabi should fight against this law. If Punjab government can provide MSP in milk via Milkfed and Himachal government can provide MSP on apples them why can’t MSP be given on pulses, vegetables? Punjab government should create its own cold storage capacity and shouldn’t surrender to the big MNCs,” said Sidhu.
He added, “Farmer unions should also work to make the cooperative farming model successful like we see in Maharashtra. It would make it possible for farmers to not surrender to MNCs and the central government. I have already provided my suggestions for upliftment of farmers to the state government around two years ago.”
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