The leaders of the protesting farmers’ groups on Monday rejected the Centre’s proposal of buying five crops at minimum support price through cooperatives and said that they will resume their march to Delhi, PTI reported.

The proposal was made on Sunday during the fourth round of talks between the Centre and the protesting farmer leaders.

The Centre had offered that cooperative societies such as the National Cooperative Consumers Federation and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India will buy pulses – arhar, tur and urad – and maize from the farmers at a minimum support price for the next five years. It also proposed that the Cotton Corporation of India will buy cotton crops at minimum support price.

A minimum support price is the rate at which the government buys farm produce and is based on a calculation of at least one and a half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.

Last week, two umbrella bodies of around 200 farmers’ and farm labourer unions, the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha and the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political), had called for a protest march to Delhi to press the Centre to accept their 21-point demand charter.

They are primarily seeking a law guaranteeing a minimum support price for agricultural commodities and the implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission Report’s wider recommendations on farming in India.

On Monday, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said that the latest proposal was “not in favour” of the farmers, The Indian Express reported. “We stand by our demand of legal guarantee for MSP [minimum support price] on all 23 crops,” he told reporters.

Dallewal said that the Centre’s delegation comprising Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Arjun Munda and Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had claimed that the minimum support price on pulses alone will cost the government Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

“We have calculations from experts who say that the MSP on all 23 crops will cost the exchequer Rs 1.75 lakh crore,” The Indian Express quoted Dallewal as saying. “We spend Rs 1.75 lakh crore on palm oil imports. Palm oil is already responsible for so many diseases in the country. If the government announces MSP on oil seeds, then Rs 1.75 lakh crore can be saved on these imports.”

Meanwhile, Sarvan Singh Pandher, the general secretary of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said that the proposal would only benefit those farmers who diversify their crops away from paddy.

“The Union ministers kept telling us inside the meeting that the proposal was for all the farmers across the country,” Pandher said. “But after they came out, they started saying that only those farmers would get MSP on pulses, maize and cotton, who will diversify from paddy.”

Leaders of farmers’ groups announced that their protest would resume at 11 am on Wednesday. On Sunday, they had said that they were pausing their protest for two days while they discussed the Centre’s proposal.

“We have every right to launch an agitation,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “There is no need for any meeting. The government should take decisions now. There have been enough discussions.”

Thousands of farmers from Punjab have been stopped at the state’s border with Haryana at Shambhu. The Haryana Police has barricaded the border with concrete structures and barbed wires.

“We appeal to the [Union] government to either accept our demands or let us go to Delhi,” Pandher said. “But nobody listens to us. We have been trying not to cause harm to anyone. We do not want anyone to lose his life. But this government is not listening.”

Amid the protests at the Shambhu border, Punjab farmers have accused the Haryana Police of using excessive force against them. Punjab Health Minister claimed last week that three protestors were blinded when the Haryana Police used pellet guns on the farmers. The Haryana Police claimed that they had only fired tear gas and rubber pellets at the protestors.

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