The Left- affiliated All-India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) on Sunday released a document countering the claims of the Modi government on the three contentious farm laws, saying that the government’s arguments for not repealing the legislations were “deceptive” and “untruthful”. It also accused the government of propagating “falsehood” to claim that the laws would help farmers.
In a 24-page document, the central executive committee of the AIKMS said the farmers had demanded improvement in the functioning of the mandis under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act and not “mukti” (freedom) from them. It countered the government’s claim that the reforms were aimed at increasing private capital, infrastructure and development to reach villages, saying the functioning of the government mandis, supply of fertilisers, seeds, electricity and irrigation would get de-promoted with the government promoting private companies under the new laws.
On the government’s claim that it had decreased the input costs and aimed at doubling the income of the farmers till 2022, the document argued that the diesel cost had been raised tremendously by the present government, even though international prices of crude oil had fallen from $110 per barrel in 2014 to $40-50 per barrel now.
“Today the total tax on diesel and petrol is around ₹50, which is about 65% of the price of the fuel,” the document said. It added that seeds, insecticides and farm equipment were sold by the private companies at very high costs and not regulated by the government. “Every year the prices are raised and peasants have to take loans to pay for these,” said the document.
“The government is trying to deny Minimum Support Price at C2+50% in the name of keeping food costs low for the poor people. Giving C2+50% as MSP will not make food costly if input costs are decreased proportionally. This will afford savings for farmers and agriculture will become sustainable. But government wants to allow corporates to sell costly inputs and keep the food costs low by depriving peasants of profitable MSP. Thus, at both ends the peasant is squeezed and corporate profit is secured,” the document said, adding that monopsony i.e. one buyer and many sellers cannot create a condition for peasants to bargain and fix prices.
On the government’s claim that farmers would not lose their land under the new laws, the document argued that Section 9 of Contract Act provides for peasants to take loans from other ‘debt instruments’, as separate and parallel deals. For making payment to the sponsor company for the inputs provided by it to the peasant he will have to take loans and his land will be mortgaged, the AIKMS said.
Offering counters to 16 claims of the government point-by-point, the document said the solution to the farmers problems was “cheap inputs” and “cheap loans”, but government had not done that. “It is tricking the people by saying that middlemen’s commission charges raise food prices. But the commission charges are only 8.5%, but the difference in what a farmer gets and the consumer buys is mainly due to high transport costs, illegal taxes extracted by the officials and hoarding and black marketing. Farmers always receive very low prices when the market is monopolised by big buyers, even when there is shortage in the market. High cost to consumers too is driven by monopoly control by companies,” the document said.