Farmer leaders reject Centre's MSP proposal, say they will march towards Delhi on Wednesday

Samyukta Kisan Morcha said the plan seeks to "divert and dilute" the farmers' demand for MSP and they will accept nothing less than the 'C-2 plus 50%' formula
Farmers listen to a leader at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during their 'Delhi Chalo' protest, near Patiala district, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.
Farmers listen to a leader at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during their 'Delhi Chalo' protest, near Patiala district, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. PTI

CHANDIGARH: Farmers leaders taking part in the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation on Monday rejected the Centre's proposal of procuring pulses, maize and cotton at MSP by government agencies for five years, saying it was not in farmers' interest and announced that they will march towards the national capital on Wednesday.

"We appeal to the government that either resolve our issues or remove barricades and allow us to proceed to Delhi to protest peacefully," farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said.

In the fourth round of talks with farmer leaders, a panel of three Union ministers on Sunday proposed buying of pulses, maize and cotton crops by government agencies at minimum support prices (MSP) for five years after entering into an agreement with farmers.

Earlier on Monday, Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which spearheaded the 2020-21 stir, rejected the government proposal, saying it seeks to "divert and dilute" the farmers' demand for MSP and they will accept nothing less than the 'C-2 plus 50 per cent' formula for MSP as recommended in the Swaminathan Commission report.

Later, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, a leader of SKM (Non-Political) that is spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march, said, "After holding discussion in our two forums, it has been decided that the Centre's proposal is not in the interest of farmers and we reject this proposal."

Farmers listen to a leader at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during their 'Delhi Chalo' protest, near Patiala district, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.
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When asked if their call for march to Delhi still stands, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said, "We will move to Delhi peacefully at 11 am on February 21."

After the talks with the farmer leaders on Sunday night, Union minister Piyush Goyal said, "Cooperative societies like the National Cooperative Consumers Federation and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India will enter into a contract with farmers who grow 'tur dal', 'urad dal', 'masoor dal' or maize for buying their crop at MSP for next five years."

"There will be no limit on the quantity (purchased) and a portal will be developed for this," he had said.

Goyal had also proposed that the Cotton Corporation of India would buy cotton from farmers at MSP for five years after entering into a legal agreement with them.

Protesting farmers have been staying put at Shambhu and Khanauri points on Punjab's border with Haryana after their 'Delhi Chalo' march to press the Centre for various demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, was stopped by security forces which led to clashes last week.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

Farmers listen to a leader at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during their 'Delhi Chalo' protest, near Patiala district, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.
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