Centre firm on agri reforms; farmers to hit streets on September 25
After a stormy Parliament session over the Farm Bills, the Modi government is bracing to face the nation-wide protests by farmers' organisations on Friday but sticking its guns on 'historic' reforms that create new markets for the ryots.
Opposition parties have thrown their weight behind the farmers' organisations, with Congress launching its own programme to highlight the 'lacunae' in the two legislations, even as Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured farmers that the new law did not mean to scrap the minimum support price regime or the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC).
Several farmers' organisations including the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM) have given a call for 'Bharat Bandh' on Friday.
'The cry of farmers will echo throughout the country with 'Bharat Bandh' on September 25. Millions of Congress workers under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi are standing with the farmers,' AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
Youth Congress activists carried out a torch procession in the national capital to express solidarity with farmers.
'When seen in totality, these bills have nothing to do with improving farmers' incomes. Instead, they will empower agri-business and increase corporate control of our food systems, leaving farmers and consumers with little re-course to justice,' Yudhvir Singh, National Convenor, ICCFM, said in a statement here.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar accused the Congress of misleading the farmers on the farm sector reforms and pointed out that the opposition parties has promised similar reforms in its party manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
'Even in the discussion in Parliament, Congress leaders did not oppose any provisions of the Bills, but focused on issues that were not part of the Bills,' Tomar said.
Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur accused the Congress government in Punjab of issuing directions to officials to organise protests against the farm sector Bills.
Akali Dal chief and former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has called for a protest marches against the farm reform bills that were passed in Parliament on Sunday.
Farmers' organisations such as AIKSCC, Jai Kisan Andolan, BKU, All India Kisan Sabha have urged President Ram Nath Kovid not to give his assent to the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill which were 'rammed' through Parliament by the Modi government.