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Farmers reject Centre’s 5-year MSP offer, to resume ‘Delhi Chalo’ march

Farmer leaders call the proposition an attempt to divert the demands of MSP, saying that the plan presented to them was different from what Minister Goyal disclosed to the media after their meeting.

Protesting farmer leaders have rejected the Centre’s proposal of procuring pulses, maize and cotton at Minimum Support Price (MSP) by government agencies for five years. Farmers announce their intention to resume the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march tomorrow, as the proposition did not align with the best interests of the farmers community. 

“The government has given us a proposal so that we backtrack from our original demands. They will be responsible for whatever happens now,” said farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher. 

After the fourth round of talks ended, Union Minister Piyush Goyal addressed the reporters and disclosed the government’s offer to procure five crops on minimum support price (MSP) for five years based on a contract system. Following this, the farmer leaders sought two days to discuss the proposal with experts and forums. 

Just a day after, the agitating Punjab farmer leaders on Monday evening rejected the offer and said they would resume their ‘Dilli Chalo’ Protest at 11 am Wednesday to demand a legal guarantee of MSP on all crops.

The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) the two umbrella bodies of around 200 farmer and farm labourer unions had given the call for ‘Delhi Chalo’ to press the central government to accept their demands, which included a legal guarantee for MSP. 

“The proposal that was presented before us was different from what Union Minister Piyush Goyal disclosed before the media after the fourth round of meeting on Sunday night. In the meeting, it was proposed that for the five crops, procurement would be done on MSP. But when the Minister conveyed after the meeting that the procurement would be on a contract system, the real intention was exposed. So after deliberating on the Minister’s statement, we have decided to reject the offer,” the coordinator of the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha Pandher, said at a press conference in Patiala. 

The farmer leaders said the Centre must reveal every point of discussions held in the meeting clearly, asking the BJP to implement its promise in the manifesto. 

SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said, “They (government) said that Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be spent to ensure MSP on pulses. But our expert said that this is completely wrong, crops of the entire can be bought for Rs 1.75 lakh crore.”

Moreover, the farmer leaders expressed concern over the situation at the borders urging the government to allow peaceful protest. “On February 21, we will peacefully start our march towards Delhi. We appeal to the Centre to resolve our issues by holding talks or let us march to Delhi by removing the barricades erected on the Punjab-Haryana boundary,” Sarwan Singh Pandher said.

Expressing anguish, Pandher compared the situation in Haryana to like that of Kashmir saying, “If you don’t want to find a solution through discussion with farmers then we should be allowed to march towards Delhi…When we moved towards Delhi, shelling happened…Bullets were also used on the tyres of the tractors…DGP Haryana has said that they are not using tear gas on farmers…We demand punishment for those using it then.”

On the other hand, Dallewal brought forward the situation in the Shambhu border saying, “The way farmers were treated at the (Shambhu) border is condemnable. The main reason for inviting Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann to the meetings was to raise the issue of barricading along the borders, and that people of his state (Punjab) are facing tear gas shelling from neighbouring states. He promised to take notice of the situation, but he hasn’t.”

Meanwhile, the internet remains suspended in 7 districts of Punjab.

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