By Pragya Kaushika
New Delhi [India], November 30 (ANI): Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar on Monday said the Centre has not been able to reach out to the "common farmers" on new farm laws and the ongoing protest is being led by "big farmers and middlemen".
He said the protest is mainly confined to Punjab, Haryana and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh.
Shanta Kumar had headed the high-level committee set up by the Narendra Modi government in 2014 on the restructuring of Food Corporation of India. The committee had submitted its recommendations in 2015.
The government had subsequently launched schemes for farmers including PM Kisan Samman Nidhi.
Shanta Kumar told ANI that it was a matter of concern that the laws prepared by the government after much deliberation have not been understood by farmers of a few states.
"The Centre has been unable to reach out to the common farmer on the issue. This protest is being led by big farmers and middlemen and is confined to Punjab, Haryana and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh. If all farmers are against the new laws why aren't farmers of other regions protesting?" he asked.
He said procurement of crops is highest in Punjab and Haryana and alleged that a big amount of commission is also "routed" to politics.
"The procurement is highest in Punjab and Haryana. The commission of middlemen in these states is in crores of rupees. A big amount of this commission is also routed to Punjab politics. The only reason for protests in these states is middlemen," he alleged.
He said big farmers and middlemen are a strong lobby in these states.
"Only about six per cent of farmers sell their produce to the government on Minimum Support Price (MSP). Then what is all the fuss about? In fact, the new laws have given the farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere and freed them from the clutches of local markets," the BJP leader said.
regarding the laws.
Farmers have been protesting at various places in Delhi and Haryana and have rejected the "conditional" offer for talks.
Members of around 32 farmer organisations, mostly from Punjab, have reached Delhi and are also protesting in border areas against three new farm bills.
The government had recently enacted Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the Central government is ready for talks with the farmers' unions on December 3. The government had also expressed its willingness to hold the talks earlier. (ANI)