Union minister Anurag Thakur on Friday accused the Congress-led dispensation in Punjab of “misguiding” farmers over the new legislations and claimed that “we keep meeting farmers on a regular basis to listen to their problems and will meet them in future as well”.
Defending the the new farm laws, Thakur said the Congress and some other parties were opposing the farm laws due to their “vested interests” keeping an eye on the 2022 Punjab assembly polls. But the Modi government is committed to double farmers’ income by 2022, he asserted.
“Punjab is the only state in the country where the ruling party (Congress) is trying to misguide, create confusion and mislead farmers,” Thakur said.
Claiming that new laws were in no way detrimental to the interest of farmers he said, “these legislations do not have a single word which is ‘Kisan virodhi’. In fact , these laws will give ‘azaadi’ to farmers.
On being asked why no minister was present at Krishi Bhawan in Delhi when heads of 28 farmer unions had gone there on Centre’s invitation for talks, Thakur said, “That meeting was with the Agriculture Secretary. Many other farmers associations are also coming (to us) to clarify their doubts and meetings are happening in a cordial manner. Really wonder, as to why it did not happen in case of Punjab farmers. They are our own and we are in touch with them”.
He also accused the Congress of speaking in favour of ‘arthiyas’ (commission agents) rather than farmers. “This is the reason that we are here to clear the doubts of farmers,” he added.
Raising the issue of mandi tax collections, the BJP leader said the Punjab government had claimed that it would face a loss of Rs 3,500 crore. “Does Chief Minister Amarinder Singh not want doubling of farmers’ income?” he said as he accused the CM of playing politics over the mandi issue.
Thakur clarified that the mandis would continue to stay under the new farm laws and farmers have been given the option of selling their crops outside notified mandis. He slammed the Congress for “spreading lies” about dismantling of mandi system.
“The Modi government has given Rs 2,500 crore for bringing improvement in the mandi system during the last five years,” the MoS added.
“Agriculture budget during UPA was Rs 12,000 crore while NDA enhanced it to Rs 1.34 lakh crore, which shows our commitment to farmers. Even during the pandemic, the PM released Rs 96,000 crore for foodgrain purchase on MSP. One can check the record of 72 years of Congress rule and six years of NDA and see how much money we have directly disbursed in the accounts of farmers”.
He said contract farming already exists in Punjab, “but it will be more refined now adding more income to farmers”.
He also lashed out at the Amarinder Singh-led government for “failing” to waive off complete debt of farmers as promised before the 2017 assembly polls. “The Congress makes false promises before polls and later backs out,” he alleged.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said before the 2017 assembly polls that they would bring amendment to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, Thakur said.
Meanwhile, reacting to Thakur’s statements BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, BKU (Dakaunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh said,b “Political parties always indulge in the game of blaming the opposite party. Lakhs of farmers, labourers, women are on roads. They all are voters of one party or the other but here they are sitting under one common platform, putting aside their political ideology, for saving their farms. These ministers need to tell us that when will they do a conference with the farmers sitting on protests rather than giving their lectures to a select gathering everyday?”
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