Sitaram Yechury demands law on minimum support price for farm produce

Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury
Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury has in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanded that the government pass a legislation in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament to give farmers the “right to sell” their produce at the minimum support price, or MSP, and also guarantee automatic annual review of the MSP -- that is, at least 50 per cent more than the input costs as established by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) for that year. The month-long monsoon session of Parliament is likely to begin on July 12.

In his letter, Yechury, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, reminded the prime minister that during his 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign he had promised MSP that will provide a 50 per cent net profit to the farmer over his production costs. “During the last three years, you have done nothing to fulfill this promise. The current MSP for various crops fixed by your government barely provides any returns to the farmer,” Yechury said.

The CPI (M) chief said the two government agencies, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and NAFED, or National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited, do not buy all the produce of the farmer, even at the existing MSP, forcing the farmer to distress sell his produce at a loss in the market.

Yechury said the widespread rural distress has caused thousands of suicides by farmers in the past three years. “There have been increasing protests by farmers in one state after another, which have been met by your silence and apathy while the state governments of your party have let the police loose on the poor farmers,” he said in the letter. The CPI (M) general secretary said six farmers have lost their lives in police firing in Madhya Pradesh, many seriously injured. “Meanwhile, many continue to commit distress suicides, the latest such tragedy occurring in the CM’s own constituency,” Yechury said, pointing to suicide by a farmer in Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s assembly constituency Sehore.

The Rajya Sabha member also criticised the response of the BJP state government in Maharashtra towards the genuine pleas of farmers to have been “equally inconsiderate and repressive”.

Yechury said during his visit to Nashik 15-months back, when Maharashtra farmers had blockaded the town, the CM Devendra Fadnavis called for negotiations and asked for six months to settle all the demands. “Fifteen months have since passed, after which the peasantry decided to go on a unique form of struggle: a kisan strike. Past weekend’s negotiations follow from there. Even now the kisan (farmer) organisations have warned that if this latest agreement is not honoured in letter and in spirit then they will resume the agitation from July 26, 2017,” Yechury said.

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