Ahead of the sixth round of talks scheduled on Wednesday, and amid ongoing ‘Bharat Bandh’ protests across the country on farmers’ call, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy on Tuesday declared that the Narendra Modi government is ready for “MSP and Mandi Act (APMC Act)”.
The Minister said that the central government’s first priority is Minimum Support Price (MSP) and that it will also focus on Mandis in coming days.
Reddy ensured that the government doesn’t follow two different opinions on the issue and is committed for the welfare of the farmers who have been protesting on Delhi borders for over 13 days.
“We are ready for MSP and Mandi Act. These two points are our government’s priority. Our government’s first priority is MSP. We will also run Mandis in the coming days. There are no two opinions on these issues,” Reddy said while talking to IANS at Krishi Bhawan.
MSP is a form of market intervention by the government to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. MSP is price fixed by government to protect the producer or farmer against excessive fall in price during bumper production years.
There is the fear that MSP will not be enforced once private mandis come up. Thus, the farmers seeking amendment of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act or Mandi Act.
The minister spoke after his brief meeting with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar amid ongoing nationwide shutdown called by farmers.
The Minister also urged all the farmers to shun the path of protest and resolve their issues by talking to the government assuring that Modi government will give priority on MSP and Mandi Act issues.
The assurance came after the previous five rounds of talks between the government and farmers remained inconclusive.
Thousands of farmers are sticking to their first and major point – that the three “anti-farmer” laws passed in September during Monsoon Session of Parliament be repealed. However, the government says these laws are in the interest of farmers to make them richer.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 are the main issue behind farmers’ protest.
The government’s offer to amend these laws have been rejected by over 40 farmer union leaders who have been talking to the government on behalf of thousands of farmers sitting on five different borders with a set of five major demands since November 26.
On house arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Reddy said “lakhs of people are moving in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal is among them. There is no need to arrest him. We don’t want to arrest him”.
The Minister said the government has no problem with protest as it is people’s right to raise their voices but warned that “there is no place for violence”.
Referring that all opposition political parties speaking have been against the central government and are participating in the “Bharat Bandh” called by the farmers, Reddy urged the farmers that they should discuss their issues with the government as it is ready to talk over the three farm laws which inconvenience them.
Meanwhile, the Minister urged to avoid the “propaganda of political parties”.
Hitting out at main opposition Congress, Reddy said: “What did you do in last 70 years? Why thousands of farmers committed suicide? We introduced the farm bills on the basis of demands and questions raised by farmers and farmer unions.”
“Neither Rahul Gandhi can understand farmers problem nor he can speak on these matters. So, there is no need of his attention over the matter.”