Haryana BJP chief Om Prakash Dhankar has accused opposition parties in the state of ganging up in an attempt to defame agriculture and land reforms being initiated by the state and the Centre.
“Our teams will expose those who speak lies. Their lies won’t be allowed to work,” Dhankar said in an interview to The Indian Express.
The BJP in the state has been criticised both by farmer unions and opposition parties over the three central ordinances related to the agriculture sector. The opposition has also been alleging a scam in land registries following the suspension of some tehsildars of the state revenue department. Dhankar, 59, defends both, staunchly.
On Centre’s agri ordinances, he says that they are aimed at ensuring economic freedom of farmers, but some people have started opposing them “even without complete knowledge of these laws”.
Likewise, Dhankar says, “the reforms in the registration of land parcels have been initiated to bring transparency in the system, to end corruption and punish the guilty”.
“If you try to defame the reforms now, then it would be unfortunate for the reforms to be initiated in future too. Such reforms are required to be initiated by the governments and institutions always,” says Dhankar, who was Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister in the previous Manohar Lal Khattar government. The BJP leader alleges that the opposition has intentionally tried to defame the reforms initiated by the current BJP-JJP government in Haryana.
The three contentious central ordinances that met with opposition are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 and an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Dhankar, who was earlier national president of BJP Kisan Morcha, claims the three laws are in the interest of farmers but some people including Congress and “so-called leaders of farmers” have started opposing them.
“They are those who earlier used to question the mandi system stating that the prices of agriculture produce are fixed by the traders in mandis. However, now the government has given the freedom to sell farm produce even outside the mandis too so that the farmers can ask for prices of their food grains, vegetables and fruits as per their convenience,” says Dhankar.
He adds: “If gulab rewari (sweets) of Rohtak can be sold across the country, then bajra, rice and wheat can also be sold in different parts of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a provision for this. This is the economic freedom for farmers. If any company tells a farmer that it would like to buy his wheat from his fields to sell it as flour later, then it’s to facilitate the farmer concerned. Now the rules for such contracts have been framed for retail sale-purchase,” says the BJP leader.
Dhankar further states, “Some say big players will come to procure farm produce. What is the problem, if they come? As of now, mainly government agencies procure farmers’ crops in mandis. If exporters and more traders come, then there will be more competition and farmers would benefit.”
Claiming that the farmers’ interests have been kept in mind while framing the rules, the BJP leader points out that “nobody can claim the land of the farmers even in lieu of their debts”.
“If somebody has installed a poly-house in the land of farmers for vegetables and doesn’t remove the same even after the end of the contract, it would be property of the farmer concerned as per the new rules,” says Dhankar. “The rules framed by Modi ji are as good as framed by Chaudhary (Sir) Chhotu Ram in the interest of farmers (during the British rule),” claims the BJP leader.
Taking on the opposition, Dhankar says neither mandis will be closed nor the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops would be discontinued even after the introduction of the new laws.
When asked about the demand of farmers’ bodies for an Act to ensure MSP of crops, the BJP leader said “currently the MSP is being given under some law which has not been removed by anybody, so the farmers don’t need to worry”. Farm bodies have opposed amendment in Essential Commodity Act, 1955 claiming it will lead to black marketing. But Dhankar argues that the government will be able to take the stocks in its control if there is shortage of essential commodities in the country or the prices go up, even after the introduction of the new law. “The concessions for storage have been given up to a limit only,” he points out.
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