Modi government wants to privatise farm sector: Kamal Nath

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Congress president on Thursday alleged that the Centre wants to privatise the farm sector with its three new agri-marketing laws, which are being opposed by thousands of cultivators.

Talking to reporters here while announcing the launch of his party’s protest against the government and an awakening drive for farmers which will continue till January 23, Nath claimed the “RSS and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh were votaries ofprivatisation since the beginning”.

“They (the two organisations) also opposed the nationalisation of banks carried out by former prime minister Indira Gandhi,” the former state chief minister claimed.

“The (present) government wants to privatise the farm sector with the three agri-marketing laws,” he alleged.

The farmers of Madhya Pradesh are simple and the three new laws are against their interests, he claimed.

Thousands of have been camping at several Delhi border points for over 40 days, demanding repeal of the new farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) for their crops, besides other issues.

Nath alleged that the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political branches – the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the BJP – favour a capitalists-driven market economy and are votaries of privatisation”.

He equated the three new laws to a “springboard made for industrialists” to venture into the “lucrative” farm produce market.

In contrast, the Congress was a votary of socialism and that is why PSUs were set up under the Congress’s rule earlier, the former Union minister said.

“Big corporate and multinational companies are eyeing the farm produce market which is of Rs 15 lakh crore to Rs 18 lakh crore in India. The three laws have been brought for these companies to foray into this sector,” Nath alleged.

In contrast, the Congress has always favoured a “socialist economy and ideology”, he asserted.

“The RSS and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh opposed public sector undertakings and big dams after Independence. They had opposed PSUs like the Steel Authority of India, the National Thermal Power Corporation, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and the Indian Oil Corporation,” he alleged.

Referring to the Shanta Kumar committee, he said it recommended that the central government should buy produce under MSP from states whose yield was deficit, whereas the state government should procure food grains from states (under MSP) where the agriculture production was surplus.

The central government won’t need much money to buy produce from the deficit states as the state governments would make food grains’ procurement from surplus states, Nath said.

“We demand that a law be brought to procure food grains of maximum farmers under the MSP mandatorily,” he said.

“Our protest (against the government) for the farmers’ cause at various levels including blocks and districts across the state – will continue till January 23,” Nath said.

On January 15, a two-hour-long “chakka jam” (road blockades) will be held from noon across the state, he said.

The Congress would also hold a massive “kisan mahapanchyat” (farmers’ meet) on January 20 in the state’s Morena district, he said.

On January 23, farmers would gherao the Raj Bhawan (governor’s house) here over the demand for a repeal of the three new agri laws, the Congress veteran said.

The Congress will launch a farmers’ awakening programme from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh on January 16, the leader of opposition in the state Assembly said.

Nath said he will address his party’s first awareness meeting for farmers on January 16.

The party would hold such meetings at different places, he added.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

Source: Press Trust of India

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