The Farmers and their Unions have rejected the 20 pages proposals offered by the Government that the Government is intended to address the misgivings of all the stakeholders. However the Government is not prepared for embedding the minimum support price mechanism into the law. Instead the Government is offering to give a written assurance on the MSP regime. After receipt of the proposals from the Government the farmer leaders have categorically stated that there is nothing new in them. The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) termed the proposals of the Government as “Old proposals dressed up as new” A delegation of five opposition parties met the President of India today and requested his intervention to accept demands of the protesting farmers . Since the Government is not prepared to withdraw the three controversial laws the united forum of the farmers have decided to block the Delhi – Jaipur and Delhi – Agra highways on December 12th. On December 14th they have planned to hold a Nationwide Dharna at the District level. The farmers of other states are also joining the moment to commence an Indefinite Strike from the same day.
The farmers are justified in rejecting the written assurances being given by the Government, since they know that these written assurances have got no value and no weightage, since once the agitation is over then the Government will comfortably forget its own assurances and will come with hundreds of reasons and please for not implementing the assurances. Let us analyze here about the fate of assurances given in the past 20 years by different Government and Defence Ministers to the Defence Civilian Employees and their Federations with regard to Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. The extract of the written assurances given by the Government’s in the past is given here for the information of the readers.
1) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister late George Fernandes
“ there was no proposal for privatisation/ corporatisation of the Ordnance Factories or any other Defence Establishment at present. In fact, the government would encourage growth of ordnance Factories”
2) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister late Pranab Mukherjee
“At the outset, Hon’ble RM welcomed all the participants. He observed that the Federations have expressed certain concerns and apprehensions regarding two recommendations contained in Kelkar Committee Report. One of the recommendations is that Ordnance Factories should be corporatized. Hon’ble RM stated that the Govt. has not decided to corporatize Ordnance Factories and that there is no cause of action for the Federations to begin an agitation on this issue”.
3) Assurance given by the then Secretary(DP) on 31/08/2006 with the three Federations
“2……… Secretary(DP) stated that except recommendation relating to corporatization of Ordnance Factories, no other recommendations of the Kelkar Committee affected the OFB. He informed the representatives of the Federations that no decision has been taken on the recommendation relating to corporatisation of Ordnance Factories and assured them that all stake-holders including the Federations would be consulted by the Government before taking a decision on this issue”
4) Assurance given by the then Defence Minister Shri.A.K.Antony
“RM further observed that as the Federations were opposed to Corporatisation of OFs, his predecessor had categorically assured them that there was no intention to implement the recommendation of the Kelkar committee relating to Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. He said that the present policy is the same.”
5) In a DO letter dtd. 18th June 2007 the then Defence Minister Shri.A.K.Antony has given the following assurance to the General Secretary of AIDEF.
“ As already assured, the Government does not, at present, intend to corporatize the Ordnance Factories. We do not intend to breach the agreement between the Ministry of Defence and its employees by indirectly converting the Ordnance Factories into a Corporation modules, as apprehended.
6) Late Manohar Parrikar on 12/01/2015, has assured that there is no proposal to Corporatise the ordnance Factories.
What happened to the above written assurances? The Government has completely brushed away all those assurances and have arbitrarily decided to convert the 41 most sensitive and strategic Ordnance Factories into a Corporation / PSU and then to sell it out. The Trade Unions of the Defence Civilian Employees are fighting with the Government to implement its own assurances. However the Government is adamant and repeatedly telling that it is a policy decision of the Government to Corporatise the Ordnance Factories. The Assurances given to the Defence Employees Federations, were also policies of the Government only. People who are in power thinks that they have got the authority to violate any assurances given in the past. After all the assurances given by a Government is not between two individuals. The assurances are given by the Government as an institution to another institution called the Trade Unions. Institutional assurances are blatantly violated. This is the fate of all the assurances given by this Government to the people of the country on various issues. Therefore the farmers with all these experience are very correct in rejecting the written assurances of the Government.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and National Executive Committee Member of AITUC