Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make minimum support prices binding and withdraw “politically motivated false FIRs” against protesting farmers.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Modi a day after the prime minister announced that the Centre will repeal the three contentious farm laws that had faced widespread protests for nearly a year.
Gandhi, in his letter, thanked Modi for his “large-heartedness” in making the announcement. He urged the prime minister to announce compensation of Rs 1 crore for each for the farmers who died during the agitation.
“More than 700 of our farmer brothers and sisters have been martyred in this movement, as they peacefully protested in extremely difficult and hostile conditions,” Gandhi said. “I believe that if this decision had been taken earlier, all these innocent lives would not have been lost.”
The Pilibhit MP added that it was very important to get a statutory guarantee for minimum support prices. He added that the support prices should be based on the C2+50% formula of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
The formula refers to a minimum support price that is 50% higher than the total cost of production as calculated by the C2 method. This method includes paid-out costs, family labour as well as rent and interest on land and other capital assets.
Gandhi also referred to the violence at the Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh on 3 October, in which eight people died. He called for “appropriate strict action” against Union minister Ajay Mishra, whose son Ashish Mishra has been named as an accused person in the case.
Four of those who died in the violence were farmers. Farmer organisations have alleged that a vehicle belonging to the minister ran over them.
“This heartbreaking incident is a blemish on our democracy,” Gandhi remarked.
In recent months, the Pilibhit MP has frequently expressed support for the agitating farmers. On September 5, he had extended support to a farmers’ protest in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, saying that the demonstrators are “our own flesh and blood”.
On October 7, the Bharatiya Janata Party had dropped Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi from the party’s national executive committee. Hours before the announcement, the Pilibhit MP had posted a video on Twitter showing a vehicle running over a group of unarmed protestors in Lakhimpur Kheri.
He had said that that protestors “cannot be silenced through murder” and said that justice must be delivered “before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer”.