Condemn the thoroughly anti-farmer bills declared passed in Parliament

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 25 September, 2020

Farmers across the country are marching on the roads and rallying in meetings to denounce the passing of three bills relating to trade and storage of agricultural products.  These are the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020’, ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020’ and “The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.  They are also opposing the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, which will drastically increase the cost of power for the farmers.

The agitating farmers are extremely angry that the government has gone ahead and rushed these bills through Parliament despite widespread opposition from all quarters.  Farmers in Punjab organised a 3-day rail blockade during 23-25 September. A country-wide bandh took place on 25th September.

The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) which is a coalition of 250 farm organisations has demanded that the President must reject and send back the farm bills. Many parties in Parliament have also opposed the bills.

The government claims that the new bills will contribute to doubling farmers’ income. If indeed that was the case, then the government did not need to rush the bills through parliament without any discussion. It did not need to ignore the repeated demands of farmers’ organisations for discussion. The government did this because it could not defend these bills.

It is condemnable that bills dealing with the livelihood of lakhs of peasants were passed despite so much opposition. It is clear that these bills will disempower farmers and will only advance the interests of the corporate trading and agro-processing enterprises, removing all existing restrictions on where they can trade and what they trade in. So the “empowerment” and “protection” is of the private capitalists and not the farmers. It is to promote and facilitate corporate stranglehold over agriculture and over lakhs of farmers.

Farmers have been demanding that the state must guarantee procurement of all produce at an assured minimum price. But in fact the government is taking exactly the opposite steps. Through these bills, the state is completely abdicating its duty towards those who are feeding the population. It is completely destroying the existing infrastructure of state-regulated agricultural markets (APMCs) and eliminating the stated policy of a Minimum Support Price for farm produce.

The state of Bihar is an example of what will happen when the APMCs are made defunct. In 2006, the Bihar APMC Act was eliminated. There was promise of a new “agricultural revolution” and of farmers being paid the highest prices they can imagine. The reality has been totally opposite. Farmers are forced to sell their produce at rock bottom prices directly from their fields to the cartel of private traders, who then transport the produce to the mandis of Punjab and Haryana for sale at MSP!

The Prime Minister is guilty of the highest level of deceit when he hails the farmers as “annadattas” in his speeches and declares that these “historic” bills are going unshackle the farmers. The truth is that through these bills, his government has further ensured that millions of farmers across the country will be wiped out or enslaved to private capitalists.

Farmers have been demanding that their debts be written off. The government has turned a deaf ear to this demand, even as it is writing off the debts of the biggest capitalist defaulters.

The farmers know from their experience that the promises made by the PM and various ministers that their lives will become better are totally hollow. Indian farmers have been experiencing devastating poverty and deprivation because they have been denied a remunerative price for their produce. A majority of farmers across the country eke out a living on less than Rs 1,700 a month. Barely 6 per cent of farmers realise a Minimum Support Price (MSP) on their crops. These bills are not just ignoring the demand of farmers, but are in fact out to ruin them altogether.

As farmers across the country have come out in opposition to the bills and demanded its withdrawal, the Prime Minister is “appealing” to them not to get swayed by “misinformation” that they will not get fair prices for their crops. He is accusing opposition parties and “middlemen” of misleading the farmers. This is adding insult to injury.  It is completely denying the life experience of the farmers. It is saying that farmers have no idea what is leading to their poverty and suicides. It is denying the intention behind these bills, which is to bring trade in agricultural products under the complete domination of the biggest capitalist corporations.

The government is deliberately misinforming people on many counts. It says that the biggest problem facing farmers is that of access to the market, whereas the biggest problem of farmers is the absence of assured procurement of their produce at remunerative prices and mounting debt.

All concerned people and organisations must stand with the farmers who are protesting across the country to reject these bills and force the demand that they be withdrawn. It is totally condemnable that the government wants to completely abdicate its responsibility for guaranteeing security of livelihood to the farmers.

Down with the anti-farmer and anti-social bills!

Long live the unity of workers and peasants in opposing the attacks on their rights!

Below are links to selected articles and interviews with farmer leaders on the anti farmer bills published earlier in the CGPI website.

Establishing domination of trading monopolies over farmers and their produce
Interview with Shri Vikal Pachar, National President of All India Swaminathan Sangharsh Samiti
Interview with the President of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana
Interview with the Executive Chairman of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti
Interview with the President of the Krantikari Kisan Union (Punjab)

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