Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil Ghanwat, who is one of the members of the committee appointed by the Supreme Court to hear farmers’ grievances against the contentious agricultural laws, on Wednesday said he would keep aside his personal opinions, and ensure the protestors “get justice,” reported ANI.
Just like other three members of the panel, Ghanwat has in the past publicly supported the new laws. His Shetkari Sanghatana – a Maharashtra-based farmers’ outfit – has rallied in support of the reforms, and insisted that the government should not bend to “pressure from farmers in just two states”.
In an interview to ANI on Wednesday, Ghanwat said he felt the movement “should stop somewhere” and that “a law should be made” in the interest of farmers. “First we need to listen to farmers, if they had some misconception about Minimum Support Price and Agricultural Produce Market Committee, we will clear it,” he said.
At the same time, Ghanwat again indicated his support to the pro-market reforms. “Several farmer leaders and unions want freedom from the monopoly of APMC, this need to be stopped and farmers should be given the freedom to sell their crop,” he claimed, adding that this has been their demand for the last 40 years. “Farmers, who want MSP should get it, and those who want freedom from it should also have an option.”
The member of the Supreme Court-nominated committee added that the farmers need to be assured that “whatever is happening is in their interest”.
The Supreme Court had appointed the committee – staffed entirely by those who have supported the laws – while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the new legislations and the round-the-clock protests around it on Tuesday. It also put a stay on the implementation of the laws at least till the panel submitted its report, and further suggested that the farmers call off their protest.
- What you need to know about the Supreme Court order that protesting farmers have rejected
- ‘Unacceptable joke’: Opposition questions SC-appointed panel of experts known to support farm laws
Farmer leaders have however made it abundantly clear that they would not participate in the processes undertaken by the committee, which they say is clearly “pro-government”. They said the court’s decision to stay the proceedings were “welcome but not a solution”, and the core demand for a total repeal of laws would continue.
Ghanwat said that it was “completely wrong” on the part of farmers to believe that the panel was biased towards the Narendra Modi government. “It is a total misconception,” he said. “I have been neutral on this, I have never worked for any political party but only in favour of farmers, and whatever happens in the coming days, we will try our best to get the issue resolved in favour of all farmers of the nation, not just for farmers of Maharashtra or Punjab.”
Besides Ghanwat, other members of the panel are agricultural economists Ashok Gulati, Pramod Kumar Joshi, and Bhupinder Singh Mann of the Bhartiya Kisan Union. Ghanwat pointed out that panel member like Gulati was not a political leader or even part of any group.
When asked about the farmers unwillingness to approach the committee, Ghanwat told The Hindu, “The committee will go to them, if they do not come to us.” He said that “politics does not matter” when it comes to farmers’ interests.
He also stated that the panel could not start its work until it got guidelines from the Supreme Court . “As soon as it arrives, we will meet all the farmer leaders and get their opinion of what they need and how it can be done,” he added . “I will set aside my personal views, agitating farmer leaders should work with the committee and express their views.”