Farmers fear new laws will end MSP, govt procurement: Harish Rawat
New Delhi: Congress leader Harish Rawat has accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to weaken the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three farm laws by alleging that the opposition was seeking to mislead them.
“The matter is between the government and the farmers. Why is the government seeking to give the opposition this opportunity,” Rawat, who is the party’s Punjab in-charge, told IANS in an interview.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: The government is accusing Opposition, especially the Congress, of misleading the farmers on the three farm laws. Your response?
A: The whole matter is between the government and the farmers. Why is the government giving an opportunity to the Opposition to be aggressive? Farmers are demanding the withdrawal of the laws as they are against them and will further increase their troubles so the government should roll them back and end the matter. The government is trying to weaken the protest by dragging the Opposition into it. The farmers have realised that these three laws will be threat to the MSP, government procurement and APMC system. All of these are inter-related, if one system collapses, the other will also collapse. As far as misleading the farmers is concerned, I think they are capable enough to understand that what is good for them and what’s bad.
Q: Why is there a protest despite assurance from the Prime Minister as well as the government officials that these laws are in the favour of the farmers?
A: Why were such laws enacted that the government now has to give assurance over them? On one side are these laws while on the other there is the assurance from the government. Now what will work, the laws or the assurance. You have made the laws which are against the farmers and still the government is saying that it is in their favour. Instead of giving written assurance, the government should roll back these laws immediately and the farmers will end their protest. This fight is for the rights of the farmers and the whole country is with them.
Q: Why is the Opposition objecting if the corporates will buy the produce at higher price?
A: No one is stopping the corporate houses from buying farmers’ produce at higher rates. They could have bought it at higher rates earlier also… then why were the laws needed? They can buy the produce at any cost but for that you don’t have to end the mandi system. Even today milk and egg, meat, fruits and vegetables etc. are purchased from mandis. Once the mandi system ends, the farmers will become slaves in the hands of big corporates which will make their situation worst.
Q: It is being alleged that the Congress is provoking the farmers in Punjab, where your party is in power and you are the in-charge.
A: I would like to ask the government, that why the farmers of Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar (Uttarakhand), western UP and Haryana, where the BJP is in power, have also joined the protest. The basic thing is that the farmers are concerned in the places where the MSP and mandi system is strong. Paddy and wheat is being procured the most, and is grown in Punjab so the farmers there are worried. The farmers of Uttarakhand have also understood the problem and hence are protesting.
Q: A few days ago, some farmers’ organisation met the Union Agriculture Minister and supported the farm laws. So is there a faction among the farmers’ organisations too?
A: The farmers who have extended their support have been created by the government itself. The difference between them and the real farmers can be clearly seen. You are talking about Punjab and other places just to divert the protest. The government is associating Khalistan and “tukde-tukde” gang with the movement. They didn’t realised that the protest will become so strong. The BJP felt that they will end this movement also as they did with previous movements. Every time you can’t play the same tactics. You can’t deny the truth by alleging involvement of “tukde-tukde” gang. The farmers themselves as well as the figures suggest that their income is continuously decreasing. The NDA is in power in Bihar and there is no mandi system, no MSP system, then why the income of Bihar farmers is not increasing. Why the corporates are not buying produce there?
Q: Is it right to blame to the corporates?
A: Various pillars of our economy have been gifted to the corporate houses. It is clearly visible that some sectors are being controlled by the corporate houses. Now, if the corporates will start controlling the agriculture sector also, then the farmers will lose their lands. We are not fighting against any individual, we have been talking about all the sections of the country.
This fight is not about the farmers alone, it is fight for the poor. The farmers have understood the issues with the laws.