AT LEAST two Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) MLAs joined protests of farmers, who are opposing the Centre’s three farm Bills in Haryana, on Sunday.
Barwala MLA Jogi Ram Sihag and Shahabad MLA Ram Karan Kala went to support protesting farmers and assured them of support. Sihag went to a protest near Sarsod village of Hisar district, where farmers were blocking the national highway which connects Hisar to Chandigarh. Sihag’s constituency is dominated by farmers. “If people of my constituency ask me to resign, I am ready for the same,” he told The Indian Express.
The Barwala MLA further said that earlier, he too used to think the Bills are pro-farmer. “But then I studied the three proposed laws. For the time being, the Bills should be withdrawn,” said the first-time legislator, adding that he would raise the matter at the party meeting.
Sihag said farm labourers would be the biggest sufferers after implementation of the Bills. “Farmers are compelled to sell their produce because they don’t have space to stock their produce at their homes. After removal of the limit on hoardings, the big capitalists will purchase the entire produce of wheat and paddy. Then there will be nothing left with the government. It won’t be available even in the mandis. If food grains are available at the rate of Rs 500 per kg, how will labourers be able to purchase the same?” he asked.
In the current system, the arhtiyas (commission agents at mandis) purchase crops from farmers for government procurement agencies in lieu of a fixed commission from the government. According to Sihag, the mandi system won’t survive after the introduction of new laws with “big capitalists purchasing most of the food grains”. “If the agricultural produce won’t go to the mandis, then arhtiyas will leave their profession to do something else. Then the mandis won’t survive. When farmers needed to sell two bags of grains in emergency after two months of harvesting season, who will they sell the same to in the absence of mandis?” asked the MLA, who belongs to a farmer family and has studied uptil graduation.
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Sihag further said arhtiyas give advance to farmers whenever they need any financial help. “Arhtiyas give advance to farmers time and again even if they fail to return the previous loans, but this doesn’t happen in case of
banks,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shahabad MLA Ram Karan Kala visited a dharna of farmers in his constituency. “I have assured the farmers that their demands will be raised before the central and state governments,” said Kala, who had defeated then state minister Krishan Kumar Bedi in the 2019 Assembly polls.
Farmers support was considered crucial in the performance of JJP in the 2019 Assembly elections when it had won 10 seats in the 90-member Vidhan Sabha.