Hundreds of famers from all over the country gathered at Parliament Street on November 30 to hold a ‘Farmers’ Parliament’ (Kisan Sansad) on policy issues affecting farmers, including the Land Acquisition Bill and FDI in retail. The Kisan Sansad, organized by the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM), was attended by farmers from UP, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam, Odisha and several other states.
Introducing the Kisan Sansad, Rajaram Singh, General Secretary of AIKM, said, “Parliament and Government are pushing through Bills and policies affecting farmers – without even consulting the farmers themselves. This is why we farmers are holding a Farmers’ Parliament – to assert farmers’ own views on laws and policies affecting them.”
The Kisan Sansad was presided by Ruldu Singh, President, AIKM, AIKM Vice Presidents Kartick Pal, Prem Singh Gehlawat, Devendra Singh Chauhan, Rajaram, as well as CPI(ML) CC Member and former Jharkhand MLA Bahadur Oraon.
The assembled farmers debated resolutions on the LARR Bill and the FDI in retail policy. The Kisan Sansad adopted a resolution demanding withdrawal of the UPA Government’s LARR Bill, declaring it to be a blueprint for land grab. Instead they demanded measures to protect agricultural, forest and costal land from land grab.
Addressing the Kisan Sansad, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said, “Land grab threatens not only the survival of farmers but also the country’s food security and environment. The LARR Bill’s provision allowing acquisition of up to 5 percent of multi-crop irrigated area in a district will jeopardize food security. The Government must withdraw the anti-farmer LARR Bill, and instead enact protection for agricultural, forest and costal land in the interests of food security and environment.” He continued, “Land reform laws mandate that government lands be redistributed among the landless. Violating this principle, the LARR Bill paves the way to hand these over to corporates!” He concluded, “The UPA Govt is trying to hand over India’s agriculture and retailing to MNCs and corporates – but the farmers are holding their own Parliament, and tell the Government and Parliament that they will not allow anti-farmer policies to be pushed through.”
The Kisan Sansad also adopted a resolution condemning the Government’s unilateral decision allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. Rajaram Singh, AIKM General Secretary, said, “The PM is claiming that this measure will benefit farmers. In reality, the experience all over the world has shown that giant MNC retail chains tend to source produce mainly from very large farmers and contract farms. Small farmers inevitably lose out, because they cannot match the arbitrary quality standards of these chains. The MNC retailers also arm-twist farmers into selling cheap. Procurement by MNCs will reduce Government procurement, and will mainly divert the produce towards food processing – jeopardizing food security.” FDI in retail will threaten not only small retailers in India, but also small farmers, agriculture and food security, famers felt.
The Kisan Sansad also passed resolutions demanding withdrawal of the anti-farmer Seed Bill. They also demanded the release of activists Afroz Alam of CPI(ML) in Uttar Pradesh and Abhay Sahoo, the anti-POSCO leader from Odisha, who have been jailed while leading struggles of rural poor and peasantry.
The Kisan Sansad was also addressed by CPI(ML) CCM and AICCTU General Secretary Comrade Swapan Mukherjee and senior journalist Shri Kuldeep Nayyar.
The resolutions passed were submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker as well as MPs of all parties, demanding that Parliament heed the opinions of the Kisan Sansad.