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Opposition stand against farm laws exposes its ‘shameful double standards’, says BJP

In 2013, Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed, Rahul Gandhi had directed all the CMs of Congress-ruled states to delist fruits and vegetables from APMC and allow them to sell it directly in an open market.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 7, 2020 10:44:21 pm
Farm bills, farm bills protest, punjab farmers, bharat bandh, bharat bandh call, framers bharat bandh call, indian express newsFarmers protest at Delhi's Singhu border (Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Accusing the Opposition of maintaining “shameful double standards”, the ruling BJP on Monday said most of the parties lending their support to the farmers’ agitation against the contentious farm laws had earlier backed many provisions of the legislation.

Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that a section of farmers had fallen in the grip of a few people with “vested interests” and asserted that the government was working to address their misgivings about the reforms, which have brought thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, at the capital’s doorstep. Read farmers protests LIVE updates

Reading out from the Congress’ 2019 manifesto, Prasad said the party had then promised to “repeal” the APMC Act. In 2013, he claimed, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had given direction to all the Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states to delist fruits and vegetables from APMC and allow them to sell it directly in an open market.

Prasad also hit out at Sharad Pawar, saying that as then agriculture minister under the UPA government, the NCP supremo had “written to Chief Ministers strongly advocating for greater participation of private sector in agriculture sector and need for making suitable regulatory and policy changes for that”.

“In a 2005 interview, Sharad Pawar had said that APMC Act will be abolished in six months. He had further said that the states would not get financial support from the Govt. of India unless they are ready to amend the Act and allow the private sector to enter in this area

Countering the BJP’s claims, the NCP claimed that Pawar had instead persuaded many ‘reluctant’ states to implement the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government’s model APMC Act.

“After taking over as Union agriculture minister, Pawar tried to form a broader consensus amongst state agriculture marketing boards by inviting suggestions for the implementation of the Act,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said in a statement.

“The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained (by Pawar) to various state governments and many
state governments came forward to implement it. Farmers across the country are benefitting from the implementation of the Act which was fine tuned by Pawar to protect farmers’ interests,” he said.

As many as 15 parties opposed to the BJP, many running state governments, have extended support to the December 8 Bharat Bandh call given by protesting farmer groups. This coalition is being seen as a renewed attempt by the beleaguered political opposition to push the NDA to concede on the three farm laws it had passed in September ignoring calls for more discussion and scrutiny.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of 10 parties from Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, issued a joint statement supporting the nationwide Bandh call.

Besides Gandhi, the signatories are DMK chief M K Stalin; NCP chief Sharad Pawar; RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav; PAGD president Farooq Abdullah; SP chief Akhilesh Yadav; CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury; CPI general secretary D Raja; CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya; Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas and RSP’s Manoj Bhattacharya.

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