NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Monday reiterated farmers’ demand for a law on MSP for crops along with the repeal of the three agriculture-marketing laws and said that business over hunger will not be allowed in the country.
“Desh mein bhook pe vyaapaar nahi hoga. Bhook kitni lagegi anaaj ki keemat utni hogi. Desh mein bhook se vyaapaar karne walon ko baahar nikaala jaaega (There will not be business over hunger in the country. If hunger goes up, price of crops will be decided accordingly. Those wanting business over hunger will be driven out of the country),” Mr Tikiat said at Ghazipur border, which has become one of the epicentres of the farmers’ protests at Delhi borders.
Mr Tikait’s comments came in reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address in Rajya Sabha where he assured farmers that the MSP will last forever. “MSP tha, MSP hai, aur MSP rahega (MSP was there, MSP is there and MSP will continue)… Affordable ration for the poor will continue. Mandis will be modernised,” Mr Modi said while requesting farmers’ unions to call off their 75-day agitation.
Mr Tikait, who has now become the face of the agitation, said the farmers’ protests have highlighted that there is no law on MSP because of which traders loot them by buying crops at lower prices. He said the price of crops will not be decided the way the rates of a flight ticket fluctuate several times a day. “The way the rates of a flight ticket fluctuate three to four times a day, the price of crops will not be decided the same way.”
On the PM's remark about the emergence of a “new community” which is “engaged in protests”, Mr Tikait said, “Yes, this time it is the farmers' community which has emerged and people are also supporting the farmers... This movement was first portrayed as Punjab's issue, then Sikhs', then Jats, so on and so forth. The farmers of the country are united. There is no small farmer or big farmer. The movement belongs to all farmers," he said.
Reacting to Mr Modi’s appeal to protesters to call off their agitation, farmer leader Satnam Singh Sahni said the PM should immediately call a meeting of the union leaders to end the stalemate. "If he (PM) calls a meeting tomorrow, we are ready to attend it… Today, the major question before us is how our agriculture mandis can survive,” he said.
Another farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar said that the protesting unions were ready to hold talks with the government only if it comes through formal channels. "Any issue can be resolved through proper dialogue. We are ready in-principle to resume talks."
Mr Tikait had recently said that two government representatives had come to meet him, but he had refused to meet them separately. “Every discussion will be held collectively in the presence of the Kisan Samyukth Morcha (an umbrella body of the protesting farmers’ unions).”