Farm laws issue: SAD says will initiate national pro-farmer front

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said Friday that his party would take the lead to form a "national pro-farmer front" of regional parties against the three pieces of farm legislation passed by Parliament, asserting the laws won't benefit the farmers.

Badal, whose SAD quit the NDA over the farm laws, said he would personally be involved in the initiative and soon begin meeting representatives of other regional parties in Delhi. He also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold direct talks with the farmer organisations who are against the laws and address their grievances with a solution "acceptable to all".

The Akali Dal, a founding-member of the ruling National Democratic Alliance exited it in September, accusing the Central government of ignoring the sentiments of farmers. A section of farmers, mainly in Punjab and Haryana, are opposing the new laws, saying they are against their interest. The farmers also fear the laws would the pave the way to end the MSP regime.

However, the government has reiterated that the mechanism of procuring the produce of farmers at a guaranteed minimum rate would continue. It has also accused some opposition parties of misleading the farmers as the laws would free them to sell their produce outside APMC market yards.

Farmers need guaranteed MSP. The new agri Acts will leave farmers at the mercy of big corporates. Those with small land holdings cannot take their produce to far off places or store it for months. In such a situation they will not have any bargaining power with private players, he said in a statement here.

"Farmer organisations have rightly rejected the secretary-level talks offered by the agriculture ministry as a bureaucrat cannot offer anything on the table and had called the farm leaders only to explain the Centre's point of view, Badal said.

On Wednesday, several farmers' bodies in Punjab rejected the agriculture department's invitation for a meeting, saying they will not talk to anybody less than the Union agriculture minister as an "officer does not have to tell them if these laws are beneficial for farmers".

Badal said the SAD stood for a written assurance on continuation of Central government procurement of food grains as per the MSP followed by a legislation making this a statutory law.

We also stand for constitutional guarantees banning trade in food grains below the MSP, said the Akali leader, adding the prime minister should listen to 'jan ki baat' (people's voice) which he had also reflected as the Chief Minister of Gujarat when he had recommended making MSP a statutory right as head of the consultative committee of chief ministers.

In his meetings with like-minded regional parties, he added, he would stress to them that the farm laws were aimed at "safeguarding the interests of corporates and not farmers.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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