Budget Farmers

Farmers have lunch next to a cauliflower field in Amritsar Feb. 1. The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee has called the 2018 Union Budget “anti-farmer” and said it will only benefit corporate interests. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — Terming the announcement of a 50 percent profit over the input cost for agriculture commodities a "jumla" and "big fraud," the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee Feb. 6 said the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s Union Budget is anti-farmer and will only benefit corporate interests.

The government has come up with a new definition for the Minimum Support Price, which in fact has made no change in the old MSP, said the AIKSCC, which represents 191 farmer organizations across India.

The AIKSCC announced the 'Kisan Sangharsh Mukti Saptah,' which will  take place Feb. 12-19 across the country to express its displeasure over the "anti-farmer" budget. 

Addressing a press conference here, AIKSCC convener V.M. Singh said the government did not intend to give farmers higher prices for their crops as it had not made any budgetary allocation to do so.

"This government has manipulated the figures so the input cost has gone down when actually it has increased. It is just beating the drum for the hike in the MSP but no farmer is going to be benefited. This is government of 'jumlas' (gimmicks)," he said.

The AIKSCC leaders said that since coming to power, the BJP has forgotten its campaign promise of 1.5 times returns on input costs. The party was left with no option but to declare the profits during this budget due to recent nationwide farmer protests over rural distress, they said. 

Attacking the government for manipulating the input cost figures while fixing the MSP, Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan said the new MSP rates using A2+FL as input cost would hurt farmers. 

"This government had in affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court in 2015 said that it cannot give the 1.5 times profit. However, it has announced it now. Actually, the government is not going to give MSP as per the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, which consider C2 – the comprehensive input cost – while fixing it. It is going to use A2+ FL, which will not lead to any hike in MSP," he said.

"In an RTI reply on Jan. 19, the government said MSP with 1.5 times the input cost was not possible. And in next few days, the government announces that it is going to give 1.5 times. It is a big fraud." 

Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said the budget was made with privatization in mind and will hurt not just farmers but Dalits and tribals as well. 

"The thrust on infrastructure building such as roads in the farm and rural sector would help only corporate. The government has ignored Dalits, laborers, tribals, farmers in the budget in pursuit of the economic development. We do not think there will be any reduction in farm suicides," she said.

Former National Democratic Alliance ally Shetkari Sanghtan's MP Raju Shetty said the government wanted electronic markets in rural areas but has not provided the required warehouse facilities.

Former Madhya Pradesh lawmaker and farmer leader Sunilam said copies of the budget would be burned at 1,000 locations across the country in order to expose how anti-farmer it was. 

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