Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala on Thursday promised to resign from his post if he is unable to ensure the minimum support price guarantee for the procurement of farmers’ crops, ANI reported.
His comments came as tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for over 15 days against the Centre’s agriculture laws. They fear that the laws will result in the phasing out of MSP and public procurement. The MSP 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 farmers.
Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party is a key ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and has a farmers’ vote base. The deputy chief minister told reporters that he is in touch with Union ministers to resolve the deadlock between farmers and the Centre.
“Our party’s national president already made it clear that MSP must be ensured to farmers,” Chautala said. “The written proposals given by the Central government to the protesting farmers include a provision for MSPs. I will work to secure MSP for farmers as long as I am in power. I will resign from my post the day I am unable to fulfill the promise.”
He added that he was constantly putting forward the demands of the protesting farmers. “Chaudhary Devi Lal [former Haryana chief minister] used to say the government only listens to farmers till the time they have a partnership in the government,” Chautala said.
The Jannayak Janata Party leader said that the Haryana government has procured an unprecedented quantities of millet this season and assured that the MSP system will continue in the coming years.
In September, Chautala had said the farmers’ opposition to the agriculture laws was based on a “misunderstanding”.
Farm law protests
The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
The farmers fear the laws will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.
The farmers have rejected the government’s proposal to amend three controversial laws on Wednesday and called for a nationwide protest on December 14. Meanwhile, members of the Krantikari Kisan Union also said that they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on Saturday.
Opposition parties have also criticised the reforms, saying they would benefit big business and not farmers. They have urged President Ram Nath Kovind to ask the government to accept farmers’ demands.