Mumbai: Shetkari Sanghatana President Arun Ghanvat, who is part of the four-member committee announced by the Supreme Court to examine the contentious new farm laws, has been an ardent supporter of the new legislations. In an exclusive interview with The Free Press Journal, Ghanvat says he thanks the Punjab farmers for bringing the agriculture policy centre stage for discussion.
Q: Farmers are clearly not happy with the appointment of a committee, as they continue to agitate. So, how do you view this development?
A: It is a positive development, as the laws were enacted without proper discussion. They were not discussed before they were introduced. There was a lot of misunderstanding about the laws. Agitators say that the laws leave out MSP and APMC. With the formation of a committee, there will be open discussion. As a committee member, I would like to go to the farmers and their leaders and discuss issues with them. We will see how to get their support for these laws.
Q: What is your take on the three farm laws?
A: I am not lauding the Centre's three Acts, described as 'giving freedom to farmers'. It was the Shetkari Sanghatana, headed by the late Sharad Joshi, which had pressed for these changes first. The government has tried to implement them to some extent. My role in the committee will be to safeguard the interest of farmers and improve these laws.
Q: Are you optimistic these laws will help boost growth in agriculture and bring prosperity to farmers?
A: Let me first make it clear - India does not have an agricultural policy at all. Now, the process has started. I thank the Punjab farmers for bringing this issue to the centre stage and starting the discussion process afresh. Otherwise, farmers are always taken for granted and all the parties that come to power are crushing farmers, pulling down the rates of agricultural commodities. Farmers are pushed into debt and commit suicide.
Now, India can have a proper, pro-farmers' policy which can give them freedom. This will help increase their income and reduce the restrictions on agriculture. Let farmers speak openly. The committee will submit its report to the Supreme Court.