Farmers mount pressure on political parties and the government
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has stepped up its pressure on political parties and the government, by organising a roundtable on its two Kisan Mukti Bills in the Capital on Wednesday (28th March 2018).
AIKSCC, a large platform of more than 190 farmer organisations from around the country, has finalised two Bills to be submitted as Private Members' Bills in both Houses of the Parliament.
In November 2017, in a massive gathering at its Kisan Mukti Sansad on Parliament Street and in a special women farmers' parliament, AIKSCC had 'tabled' two inter-related Bills that it had created on its two main demands: freedom from debt and guaranteed remunerative prices. Subsequent to that, from December 2017 to mid-March 2018, in widespread processes of a consultation organised in more than 200 locations across the country, AIKSCC collected feedback from stakeholders and experts and has now finalised its two Bills. These Bills are titled: "The Farmers' Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018" and "The Farmers' Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018".
V M Singh, Convenor of AIKSCC and National President of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan said, "The government has been mentioning time and again about mitigating farmers' distress. While they did not attempt to create any statutes that will confer legal rights on farmers related to their pressing problems, we have made these Bills from the farmers' movements. Now, the government should at least accept these Bills and enact them. It is high time that everyone respects and acts on the sentiments of our farmers - the nation owes it to them".
Leaders of various political parties have been invited by AIKSCC to the Wednesday meeting to extend support to the Bills. Parties invited include INC, NCP, TDP, CPI, CPI(M), YSRCP, TRS, DMK, Shiv Sena, RJD, J&K NC, AIADMK, BSP, AAP, JD (S), AIUDF, BTP, Kerala Congress (M), CPI-ML, SUCI etc.
"These are Bills made by farmers of this country. I am only submitting them to the Parliament on behalf of the farmers of this country. It is important to note that this is the very first time that farmers' movements have come up with statutory frameworks that will confer them legal rights on two very crucial issues which have become life-and-death issues for the farmers: freedom from indebtedness and guaranteed remunerative prices", said Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Paksha, and sitting MP of Lok Sabha.
"Lack of remunerative prices and debt burden are two crucial issues that are affecting farmers. By conferring legal rights that protect farmers on these two matters, India would be able to reduce farm suicides and the current distress substantially", said KK Ragesh of All India Kisan Sabha, and sitting MP, Rajya Sabha.
"At the centre of these two Bills is a recognition that building up of the debt burden, lack of remunerative markets and frequent natural disasters without any effective support and relief mechanisms are inter-connected, and at the core of the acute distress being faced by farmers all over the country. This inter-connectedness is embedded in the way these two Bills have been created and finalised", said AIKSCC in a statement.
All Working Group members of AIKSCC are expected to participate in the meeting with political party representatives at Constitution Club, New Delhi. Subsequent to this process, the two AIKSCC Bills are to be submitted as Private Members' Bills by Shri Raju Shetti and Shri KK Ragesh in the Lower and Upper Houses of the Parliament respectively.