A day after agitating farmers rejected the Centre’s proposal to procure pulses, maize, and cotton at MSP by government agencies for five years, they have decided to resume their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march on February 21. Sarwan Singh Pandher, the General Secretary of Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, has called for urgent legislative action on the MSP guarantee. The government proposed agricultural diversification into pulses, cotton, and maize in Punjab during the fourth round of talks with the farmers. This initiative involves government-backed cooperatives offering five-year contracts to procure five crops—tur (arhar), urad dal, masur (lentil), maize, and cotton—at MSP.

The agricultural groups are advocating for legislation that ensures a MSP, a prerequisite they had established in 2021 when they decided to end their protest against the now-repealed farm laws.

On Tuesday, Pandher appealed to the government, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convene a one-day Parliament session to address this issue. He further emphasised the need for Opposition parties, including Congress, Akali Dal, and Trinamool Congress, to articulate their stance on supporting MSP-related legislation. The call for immediate parliamentary action follows the rejection of the government's proposal by protesting farmers, seeking demand for a legal assurance of MSP for all crops.

In the fourth round of negotiations with protesting farmers, which concluded after midnight on Sunday, the government introduced a proposition for agricultural diversification into pulses, cotton, and maize in Punjab. This initiative involves government-backed cooperatives providing five-year contracts to acquire five crops—tur (arhar), urad dal, masur (lentil), maize, and cotton—at MSP.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal outlined the government's innovative approach, where cooperative agencies would procure these crops at MSP with no limitations on quantity.

Farmers are seeking an MSP guarantee for 23 crops, along with a waiver of debts. Their demands include the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases, justice for victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation for the families of farmers who died during previous agitations in 2020-21.

A farmer leader proposed the viability of the "C2 plus 50%" formula and emphasised the necessity for a comprehensive debt waiver. He also underscored the potential benefits of reducing the substantial expenditure on importing oilseeds, redirecting those funds to support MSP. He advocated for diversification, suggesting that extending MSP rates to other crops would incentivise farmers to cultivate a broader range.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has issued immediate blocking directives for 177 social media accounts and links attached with the farmers' protests, citing the imperative to uphold "public order”, these orders were finalised on Monday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi countered claims of the infeasibility of MSP guarantees, citing CRISIL's report that the additional burden on the government for MSP in 2022-23 would be a mere 0.4% of the total budget.

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