Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Friday to repeal the three farm laws has brought cheers to the agitating farmers’ organisations.
However, Anil Ghanawat, a farm leader from Maharashtra who was one of the three members of the Supreme Court appointed committee on farm laws earlier this year, has termed the decision as “unfortunate”.
His co-panelist Ashok Gulati had a guarded response, wanting to wait for the committee announced by the Prime Minister for wider consultation.
Coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced to repeal the three contentious farm laws passed by the Parliament last year, saying the constitutional process to repeal the laws would be taken up in the winter session of the Parliament starting November 29.
Modi also announced to form a committee comprising representatives of the Centre, state governments, farmers, agriculture scientists and agriculture economists to discuss how Minimum Support Price (MSP) can be made more effective, how zero budget farming can be promoted and how crop patterns can be changed in a scientific manner.
Speaking to IANS over phone from Mumbai, Ghanawat, a leader of the Shetkari Sanghatana founded by Sharad Joshi, said, “This is a very unfortunate decision for both the farmers and the country as a whole. These laws were giving at least some freedom to the farmers to market their produce. But with these laws repealed, the old laws would continue, the same laws that have prompted hundreds of farmers to commit suicide, the same laws that prevented better remunerative market for the farmers’ produce.”
Explaining his point, Ghanawat said that if cotton starts getting good price, the government can put a stock limit using the Essential Commodities Act; or for that matter, can use the Foreign Trade Act to put an export ban, which will bring down cotton price. Same can be done for soyabean and other crops.
Ghanawat also said that he will be reaching Delhi, most likely on Monday, and first meet the other two members of the Supreme Court appointed committee.
“If possible, we would put out the report in the public domain,” he said.
His co-panelist Ashok Gulati, however, had a guarded response.
“The Prime Minister has clearly said that the government wanted to do reforms for the betterment of the farmers, but failed to communicate properly to them. The proposed committee will have a wider consultation and hopefully will suggest more meaningful reforms. Let us wait for that,” he said.
The Supreme Court had appointed the three-member committee — the third member being P.K. Joshi — in January this year while staying the three farm laws.
The committee had submitted its report in March. However, since then neither did the apex court make use of any of its recommendations, nor was the report made public.
In September, Ghanawat had written to the Chief Justice of India to release the report so that its recommendations could be used by the government for resolving the farmers’ agitation.
The government had held several rounds of talks with the farmers, but neither side had budged.