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Fourth farm law guaranteeing MSP could have averted current protests: Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda

Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda has said that farmers would not have been on a warpath with the government again had it brought a fourth law, alongside the three contentious agro-marketing legislations that were eventually repealed in 2021, to make buying farm produce below their MSPs an offence.
Last Updated 03 March 2024, 04:37 IST

Chandigarh: Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda has said that farmers would not have been on a warpath with the government again had it brought a fourth law, alongside the three contentious agro-marketing legislations that were eventually repealed in 2021, to make buying farm produce below their MSPs an offence.

The three 2020 laws that the government had said were essential for farm sector reforms were repealed in November 2021 after a prolonged farmers' protest spearheaded by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. The agitating farmers were also demanding a law to guarantee a minimum price for crops, but the government did not agree to this.

Now, thousands of farmers from Punjab are again on the streets -- this time led by SKM's splinter group Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) (SKM-NP) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) -- demanding a legal guarantee for MSP for crops and farm-debt waiver.

The have been camping out at the two border points -- Shambhu and Khanauri -- on Punjab-Haryana border for past several days as part of their Delhi Chalo protest.

"Had it been done then," the former Haryana chief minister said, "the farmers would not have been on the protest path again."

Hooda said the government has time even now and they should immediately engage with the protesting farmers to resolve their issues and meet their demands.

"Way back in 2020 when the Centre first bought ordinance in June, I had said before three laws are passed in Parliament, a fourth law should be brought to make buying farm produce below MSP an offence," the Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly said.

Hooda, who headed the group 'Farmers and Agriculture' at the 85th plenary session of the All India Congress Committee in Chhattisgarh's Raipur last year, said his party will ensure a legal guarantee for the MSP if the I.N.D.I.A. bloc comes to power.

He said the Haryana government claims it procures 14 crops at the MSP. "Then where is the hitch in giving a legal guarantee?" he asked.

With Lok Sabha poll dates expected to be announced soon, Hooda said the Congress is fully geared and will put up a very good performance in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

Of the 10 Haryana constituencies, the AAP has been given the Kurukshetra seat while the remaining nine will be contested by the Congress. The AAP has fielded its Haryana unit chief Sushil Gupta.

In 2019, the BJP had won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state. Currently, the Ambala seat is vacant after the demise of MP Rattan Lal Kataria last year.

On the BJP making claims that the NDA will go "400-paar" (win 400-plus seats) this time, Hooda quipped, "Everyone knows about their 'jumlas'. This is one more 'jumla'. People will vote for a change both at the Centre and in Haryana."

Hooda said, winnability will be a key criteria for the party in ticket distribution.

He said unemployment is a national issue and the situation is particularly acute in Haryana where every section of society is "fed up" with the M L Khattar government.

"The government has failed on various fronts," he said. "Unemployment, drug menace, the deteriorating law and order situation highlighted by the recent broad daylight murder of INLD state unit chief Nafe Singh Rathee, and farmers and employees' issues."

"They have failed to bring any development. What is their achievement except for event management?"

On rival parties' persistent digs at the Congress over alleged infighting in the state unit, he said the Congress is united but there are fissures within the BJP.

"Are Home Minister (Anil Vij) and Chief Minister (Khattar) on the same page? In the Adampur assembly bypolls earlier, neither Vij nor (BJP senior leaders) Birender Singh, nor Ram Bilas Sharma were seen during campaigning," he said.

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(Published 03 March 2024, 04:37 IST)

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