Farmers’ strike in MP: BKS calls off strike, other organisations refuse to concede
Bhopal: After a protest by farmers in Madhya Pradesh had turned violent, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan stitched a deal with the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and succeeded in convincing this frontal organisation of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) to call off their strike on the assurance that their demands would be met by the State Government.
Following a discussion with the Chief Minister on Sunday, Shivkant Dixit of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh announced that the farmers’ agitation has been postponed as the government has agreed to fulfill all their conditions.
The announcement by the BKS State unit chief notwithstanding, the farmers affiliated to a number of other organisations have refused to concede ground and are continuing with their agitation which turned even more violent on Sunday. An Assistant sub-inspector of Police was hit in the eye during stone pelting in Ratlam while about half a dozen cops, including a City Superintendent of Police, were injured in Sehore.
The Aam Aadmi Party is continuing its campaign for a better deal to the farmers, said Dushyant Dangi of AAP. He told Newsroom24x7 today that there’s is a peaceful agitation and they are going ahead with their plan to organise “Kisan Panchayats” at Ujjain on 7th, Indore on 8th, Gwalior on 9th, Jabalpur on 10th and Bhopal on 11th of this month. He said that the BKS only gave a call for agitation but the farmers, who are suffering under the present government due to an extremely flawed procurement regime, corruption and rising input costs, which has turned agriculture into a loss-making proposition, have voluntarily come out on the road, irrespective of their party or organisational affiliations and are expressing their anger.
On interaction with a cross-section of farmers, it was gathered that they are building pressure and are especially demanding waiver of rural loans.
Massive sit-in agitation in Bhopal (2010)
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) is an all India farmers’ organisation affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS). The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh had earlier shown its strength in Madhya Pradesh by organising a massive two-day sit in agitation by farmers in the state capital in December 2010. During this agitation, farmers from different districts had traveled long distance riding tractor trolleys to Bhopal. Their grievance was that they were being forced to buy substandard seeds and fertiliser in the black market. They had also alleged that an artificial shortage of fertiliser had been created and as a result fertiliser was being sold at a very high price with premium ranging between Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per bag.
A farmer was killed in police firing -Bareili (2013)
Three years later in 2013, a villager was killed in police firing during a farmer’s agitation at Bareili in Raisen district. In this connection, Shivkumar Sharma, who was leading the agitation at Bareili and had also led from the front the 2010 agitation in the State capital, was arrested and removed as president of the state unit of BKS .
Irregularities in wheat procurement (2008)
Earlier in 2008, the Hoshangabad District Collector in April 2008 had revealed massive corruption and mismanagement of the wheat procurement process in Madhya Pradesh. The then Food and Civil Supplies Minister Akhand Pratap Singh had said during a one-on-one discussion at that time that even sub-standard red wheat that was being sold at the subsidised rate of Rs.8.50 per kg through the PDS outlets was being siphoned away for sale in the open market. Even the Chief Minister had noticed large-scale irregularities during a surprise inspection of the Krishi Upaj Mandi in Itarsi in April that year and directed the district Collector to submit a report about procurement of wheat at the official support price. The Collector, G. P. Tiwari, through his report, had confirmed irregularities and pointed out that of the 499,991 quintal of wheat procured by the Itarsi Mandi between March 1 and April 17 that year, only 187,620 quintals had been purchased at support price, while 2,225,380 quintal of wheat was purchased below procurement price and the bonus of Rs.100 above the procurement price, announced by the State Government, was paid to procure only 86,991 quintal of wheat. The Collector had further pointed out in his report that it had been established that the wheat was wrongly declared as unfit for procurement by official agencies. The same pattern was noticed in several other mandis. The collector had also highlighted the need for a strict vigil to ensure that the wheat purchased from farmers by traders was not brought back to the mandi to be sold at the official procurement price.
The farmers’ protest turned violent at several places. On Friday morning, matters reached a flash-point at Sardarpur in Dhar district and the situation went out of control as the shopkeepers refused to pull down their shutters when asked by the protesting farmers. Tempers were high on both sides. While a number of motorcycles belonging to farmers were set ablaze, a couple of shops were also damaged by the agitating farmers.
Police force was deployed to control the mob. Later the farmers held a protest demonstration at the Sardarpur police station.
The statewide-wide agitation by farmers crippled milk collection and supply to the dairy cooperatives. The protesters were also not allowing transportation of vegetables and milk. The districts most affected were Dhar, Indore, Ujjain, Dewas, Shajapur, Neemuch, Mandsaur and Jhabua.
Soon after discussion with the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the chief minister on Sunday announced that farmers will now acquire 50% RTGS and cash payment of 50 per cent of the products they sell in Krishi Upaj Mandi. Government will purchase moong summer crop on support price and onions from farmers at Rs 8 per kg. This purchase will begin in 3-4 days and will continue till the end of June.
Chouhan said that farmers have to give more commission in sabji mandis. To put an end to this practice, sabji mandis will also be brought under Mandi Act. Crop insurance scheme will be made optional. Anti-farmer provisions in Nagar and Gram Nivesh Act will be removed. The Chief Minister announced that cases registered against farmers during this agitation will be withdrawn.
Chouhan observed that Madhya Pradesh government is a pro-farmer government. Madhya Pradesh government is the first government that has arranged to give agriculture loans at zero per cent interest that was earlier given to farmers at 16-17 per cent interest rate. Not only this, the government has also made arrangements for farmers who take an agricultural loan of Rs one lakh will now have to repay only Rs 90,000. He said that not only has the decision to give agricultural loan without interest but the decisions taken by the state government in the last 11 years in favour of farmers and farming should set an example not only in the country but the whole world. The fact that the state has received Krishi Karman Award five times is sufficient proof for this.
Madhya Pradesh has made remarkable progress in agriculture sector in the last 11 years. The state’s agriculture development rate was 4.3 per cent in the year 2004-05. Today this rate is more than 20 percent which is the maximum in the country and the world. The state’s share in the country’s total food grain production in the year 2004-05 was 7.1 per cent which has now increased to 13.5 per cent. This is nearly double. The annual growth rate of state’s grain production in the last 11 years has been nearly 12 per cent.
Chouhan said that the state’s progress in the agriculture sector has been possible due to the significant reforms, well-thought decisions of the state government and hard work of farmers. It has been ensured in the state that there should better coordination between the cooperative, water resources, dairy, animal husbandry, agriculture and horticulture departments. For this the country’s first Krishi Cabinet was formed in the state.
Chouhan said that government’s efforts like interim storage of fertilizers, Khet talab yojana, Mukhya Mantri Khet Teerth Yojana, Haldhar Yojana, Mera Khet Meri Mati Yojana, Food Processing, scheme for maximum grant and promotion to promote agriculture mechanization in the country, successful implementation of crop insurance and fish farming to help agriculture, animal husbandry, promoting horticulture crops, sericulture, bamboo production, Laakh production, purchase of wheat and other food grains by giving additional bonus on support price have always been pro-farmers.
Chouhan said that state government has not only included the decision to make farming beneficial in its top priority but has also worked for it. Shri Chouhan said that today nearly 40 lakh hectare has irrigation facility which was hardly 7.5 lakh hectare about 10-12 years back. This became possible only with the effective campaign to complete under construction irrigation projects. State government promoted efforts of construction of canals, water conservation and collection at micro level. He said that Madhya Pradesh is among those 2-3 states in the country which has ensured availability of minimum 10-hour power supply for farming.
Madhya Pradesh is an agriculture-dominated state, the chief minister said adding: “I am myself a farmer’s son. I know what are the problems of farming and farmers. I have made every possible effort for solving these problems. The efforts of the government have been appreciated in the country and the world. The state has bagged the Agriculture Leadership Award.”
Chief Minister said that Madhya Pradesh gives the maximum short term and mid-term loans in the country according to the number of its farmers. The state is leading in distribution of Kisan Credit Card and Soil Health Card also. He said that on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s appeal not only was the roadmap to double the income of farmers by the year 2022 was prepared first but it was also complied with.
The Chief Minister said that expansion of agriculture sector, publicity of advanced seeds, publicity of advanced agriculture techniques, formation of farmer producer companies, expansion of horticulture sector, expansion of bio-farming, disaster management in agriculture sector, strengthening of agriculture marketing are such effective and progressive steps of the state government that have been taken in best interest of farmers.
The Chief Minister further said that Madhya Pradesh was the only state in the country for purchasing onions on support price last year. He said that after today’s discussion Madhya Pradesh government is eager to solve the problems of farmers on priority basis. He said that even now he could not believe that farmers of the state threw crops and spilled milk on the road. This was an effort of some persons with selfish interest under the guise of farmers and pashupalak.
Chouhan said that with the combined efforts of the government and farmers’ today Madhya Pradesh farmers have left Punjab and Haryana farmers far behind in wheat production. Today Madhya Pradesh is the third largest state in India in food grain production. The agriculture square feet of the state has risen by 53 per cent in the last 11 years. In the same period, the state’s irrigated area has risen to 110 lakh hectare from 46.31 lakh hectare. The Chief Minister said that his government is a farmers’ government and will always be. State government can never tolerate financial loss of farmers.
The Chief Minister said that the growth rate of milk production in the year 2015-16 has been 12.70 per cent whereas the country’s milk production growth rate was 6.27 per cent. In this period the availability of milk per person has been 428 gram which is more than the national average of 337. The Chief Minister said that today the state is at that juncture of development in which we have to solve problems together and move ahead. By ending their agitation today the Kisan Sangh has honoured my sentiments.