The Congress’ attack came amid protests by farmers, including in Haryana and Punjab, against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
The ordinances seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmers’ produce outside notified farm mandis, and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players prior to the production for sale of agri-produce.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala expressed solidarity with those protesting against the ordinances and said the party will fight the Modi government “tooth and nail” on this issue.
“These three draconian ordinances are a death knell for agriculture in India. They will subjugate the farmer at the altar of a handful of crony capitalists, making them labourers to toil on their own land rather than getting a remunerative price for their crop under the system of minimum support price,” he said at an online press conference.
“Our floor leaders will speak to every party. They are already in touch and we will put up a joint opposition to the draconian ordinances of the Modi government aimed at subjugating the farming community and abolishing the livelihood of crores of people who are aligned with the grain markets and other market systems,” he said.
Surjewala raised various issues in the ordinances that would allegedly harm the interests of the farmers.
There is no provision in the ordinances for the protection of the rights of farm labourers or tenants, he said.
“When the mandi system ends, the farmer will be dependent only on contract farming and the big companies will set the price for his crop. What is this if not a new zamindari system?” he asked.
“As soon as the mandis are done with, the livelihood of lakhs and crores of labourers, middlemen, book-keepers, transporters etc. working in the grain-vegetable mandis will end automatically,” he claimed.
Surjewala alleged it was a “plot” to convert the “disaster of the farmers” into “opportunities” for a handful of crony capitalists under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic.
He claimed that the BJP will have to bear the consequences of the “anti-farmers” move for a long time to come.
Alleging that the three ordinances were a “direct attack” on the ‘federal structure’, Surjewala said ‘farming’ and ‘mandis’ come under the jurisdiction of states, but the Modi government did not even consider it appropriate to consult them before promulgating the ordinances.
With the abolition of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), farmers will neither get the ‘minimum support price’ (MSP) nor the price of the crop according to the market price, Surjewala said.