Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala on Monday said that there was not a single line in the three agriculture-related bills on ending the Minimum Support Price, or MSP, but claimed he would quit from his post if the support price was threatened, The Tribune reported. Chautala’s party is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana.
Crops would be procured on the MSP, Chautala said, adding that farmers would also have the right to sell their produce in the market if they were getting higher prices.
The deputy chief minister, who is the president of the Jannayak Janata Party, also accused Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda of misguiding farmers, and said that the former chief minister had supported an open market for farmers. He said the Congress had advocated for contract farming during the first term of the United Progressive Alliance government but was now against the bills for its political interests.
Chautala’s comments came amid farmers’ protests against the three farming bills across various states in the country. On Sunday, two Jannayak Janata Party leaders – Barwala MLA Jogi Ram Sihag and Shahabad legislator Ram Karan Kala – joined the farmers’ protest in the state, The Indian Express reported.
Sihag attended a protest near Sarsod village in Hisar district. “If people of my constituency ask me to resign, I am ready for the same,” he said.
Sihag said that he used to think the bill was pro-farmer. “But then I studied the three proposed laws,” he said. “For the time being, the bills should be withdrawn.” Sihar added that he would raise the matter in the party meeting.
“Farmers are compelled to sell their produce because they don’t have space to stock their produce at their homes,” the Barwala MLA said. “After removal of the limit on hoardings, the big capitalists will purchase the entire produce of wheat and paddy. Then there will be nothing left with the government. It won’t be available even in the mandis. If food grains are available at the rate of Rs 500 per kg, how will labourers be able to purchase the same?”
Meanwhile, MLA Kala went to support a dharna in his constituency. “I have assured the farmers that their demands will be raised before the central and state governments,” said Kala.
In Karnal, farmers blocked 10 places between noon and 3 pm on Sunday, saying the bill was against farmers.
Phool Singh, a farmer who took part in the protest, said the bills were against farmers and the Centre was passing the laws in haste without a discussion with them and the arhtiyas (commission agents).
The three bills are 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.
Thousands of farmers in Haryana and Punjab have been protesting against the contentious agriculture bills. The bills have already been cleared in the Lok Sabha, and two of them were passed in Rajya Sabha during the day, amid massive uproar from the Opposition.
Punjab farmers on Thursday announced that they will stage a three-day rail roko agitation from September 24 to September 26 to protest against the three bills. The call for the demonstration was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh. Other farmers organisations in Punjab have already given a call for a bandh on September 25 in protest against the bills.
BJP’s Punjab ally Shiromani Akali Dal is also against the bill. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal, resigned from the Cabinet after the bills were passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.