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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

In LS, ministers on offensive against Oppn amid uproar over fuel prices

Former Union minister and SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the new FCI norms that insist the farmers should present the land record details for providing e-payment directly to farmers would harm the farmers’ interests.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
March 10, 2021 2:54:38 am
Lok Sabha, fuel prices, Piyush Goyal, Punjab government, farm laws, APMC, MSP, Indian express newsFormer Union minister and SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Amid an uproar over the rise in fuel prices, Union ministers took on the Opposition in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday with Piyush Goyal criticising the Punjab government over its stand on farm laws and Giriraj Singh attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his remarks on fisheries ministry.

When the House took up the question on the norms for procurement of food grains, BJD’s Bhartruhari Mehtab pointed out that even if the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) continues to exist and MSP is declared, it would not be effective if the Food Corporation of India begins to limit its procurement. “This would result in a fall in demand for produce and so prices would drop. This fear is real because FCI has come under criticism for overstocking wheat and rice,” he said.

However, Goyal, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and PDS, reiterated that the government is taking measures to ensure that the farmers get more income from their produce. Former Union minister and SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the new FCI norms that insist the farmers should present the land record details for providing e-payment directly to farmers would harm the farmers’ interests. Badal pointed out that the Punjab APMC Act clearly allows farmers to sell produce through a middleman or directly. She said the new norms are direct transgression into state’s powers and federal structure.

Goyal said that the FCI procurement was “going well” in the country, and that only one state, Punjab, was objecting to the “transparent” way adopted by the Narendra Modi government to benefit farmers. “My sister here (Harsimrat) was part of ‘mantrimandal’ (Cabinet). Why has she forgotten the commitment of the Narendra Modi government towards ‘pardarshita’ (transparency),” said Goyal. According to the minister “the FCI procurement is going on well throughout the country” and that there is “only one state that says we will not give records”. “Why the state does not want to do that, she (Badal) should ask the state government,” he said, adding that the land records should be updated. “Not wanting to update land records is not correct. The government wants a transparent system to ensure taxpayers’ money is not wasted,” the minister said.

A question raised by BJP’s Sunita Duggal on the schemes for enhancing fisheries production became an opportunity for Giriraj Singh to attack Rahul Gandhi. “I will reply to all questions. But before that I want to raise an issue. I have been troubled by a remark made by the Congress leader,” he said, referring to Gandhi’s reported statement in Puducherry that there should be a separate ministry for fisheries. Singh said the Congress leader should be “sent to school so that he knows what ministries are there under the Central government”.

Singh said that “those who ruled for generation after generation”, gave only Rs 3,682 crore through central allocation for fisheries, whereas the Narendra Modi government has invested Rs 32,000 crore since 2014. “On February 2, he had an unstarred question but after going to Puducherry and Kochi, (whether) he did not remember, I can not say… While being in Puducherry, he said there is no fisheries department and that if he comes to power, he would have a separate ministry for fisheries… I am raising a Constitutional issue,” he said.

Singh also showed a written response to the Wayanad MP’s question in the Lok Sabha on February 2, in which MoS Pratap Chandra Sarangi has said to address the infrastructure requirement for fisheries sector, the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying was created during 2018-19 with a dedicated Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) with a total fund size of Rs 7,522.48 crore.

Earlier, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged a “digital divide” between the treasury benches and Opposition in the way proceedings are broadcast. When the House met, Chowdhury said whether it is the government or the Opposition, everyone has equal rights. “There is a digital divide here. Whatever the government says and does comes on television. Whatever the Opposition says does not come on television. There are restrictions on the Opposition. Everyone is a stakeholder in the House. Whatever we do is being blacked out,” he alleged. “It should stop. The camera should focus on everyone,” the Congress leader said amid chaotic scenes in the House with Opposition MPs protesting against the fuel price rise.

Speaker Om Birla asked if the Opposition leader wanted the people to see how his party creates chaos inside the House. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi also criticised Chowdhury. “You want interruption, hungama and slogan raising by your members to be shown,” he asked.

Chowdhury said, “Protests are also part of the parliamentary procedures.”

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