New Delhi: In wake of the protests by farmers mostly from Punjab in Delhi, the Rajasthan-based Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), also a National Democratic (NDA) Alliance constituent, has expressed unhappiness over the farm laws, claiming it would have to rethink being in the alliance unless the legislations are scrapped.
Earlier in September, when the farm laws were passed by the Parliament of India, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal announced pulling out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a week after the party MP Harsimrat Badal resigned from the Cabinet in protest of the new agriculture laws.
The SAD has been the oldest ally of the BJP with SAD patriarch Prakash Singh Badal being a founding member of the NDA. Both parties had shared power as allies for many years in Punjab.
On Monday, expressing dismay for not responding to the pleas of protesting farmers, the MP from Nagaur Beniwal, in a letter to Home Minister of India Amit Shah has said in Hindi: “By drawing your attention to the farmer protests against the three bills, I would like to request you to immediately take action to withdraw these bills. The people who feed the country are agitating amid this extreme winter and the Covid-19 pandemic, which does not reflect well on the government.”
Beniwal also demanded that the government implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, a Delhi-based news organisation The Indian Express reported.
“For talks with the agitating farmers, a proper place should be provided in Delhi according to their will. If a decision is not taken over this issue with immediate effect, then RLP, which is a constituent party of the NDA, will have to reconsider on the decision to continue in the alliance. The strength of RLP is in farmers and jawans,” the report quoted Beniwal mentioning in the letter.
During the Lok Sabha elections last year, the BJP had entered into an alliance with the RLP, which was formed by Beniwal in 2018 before the Rajasthan Assembly elections. Beniwal, who was fielded from Nagaur, won the election. Later, the party also contested the Assembly bye-elections in alliance with the BJP.
Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since the month of September when the parliament of India passed three farm laws. From last many days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.
After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers have decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they are coming to Delhi.
In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to convince farmers, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.
Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.
Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district, but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.
Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.
As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.
Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.
They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP.
Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.
Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.