Thousands of farmers in Haryana and Punjab protested against the Centre's agricultural ordinance and fuel price hikes on Monday, parking their tractors across cities and towns in the two stages.
The farmers were led by various organizations protested against the speculated discontinuation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The farmers protested by refusing to plough their fields; hundreds keeping their tractors idle on the roadsides and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the ordinances as well as a rollback of diesel prices.
The framers oppose three recently passed ordinances, namely the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance. They allege that the ordinances would demolish the conventional mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates and market forces. They have threatened to intensify their agitation if the government failed to withdraw these three ordinances.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), Punjab president, Balbir Singh Rajewal has alleged that farmers would be exploited by the corporate companies which procure crops from them. He added that these companies would also not pay tax, nor would there be a fool-proof dispute redressal mechanism. The farmers who sell their crops at MSP in the grain market would be forced out, killing the very successful conventional agrarian mandi system, he said.
The ordinances, coupled with the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, would deal a big blow to the farming community, making them oppressed and marginalized.
Meanwhile, the Congress in both states has accused BJP central leadership and Haryana government of duping farmers. Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja accused the government of shying away from its responsibility of protecting farmers.
"They are headed to scrapping the minimum support price system. 85 per cent of the country's farmers are small and marginal and the government's move will leave them open for exploitation. The state government should take a stand and get the centre to roll back the ordinances,” she said.
Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh too opposed the ordinances, though he had appealed to framers to postpone the protest owing to the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
"You can understand their plight and fears as they have risked their lives and still come out to get heard. The farmer is a harried lot and the Punjab state government is doing everything to support them. These ordinances will ruin the country's grain bowls,” said Captain.
Accusing opposition leader and SAD president Sukhbir Badal of shedding crocodile tears for farmers, Singh said that the fact is his wife and Union minister Harsimrat Badal never objected to ordinances despite being in centre exposed their true intentions.