Choosing not to test the waters ahead of the crucial Assembly election, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh on Friday postponed elections to agriculture produce marketing committees (APMCs) that regulate operations at mandis by another six months.
The Assembly elections in the primarily agrarian state are due in November. The tenure of the committees at 257 marketing yards was first extended in January. The APMC Act allows only two extensions.
The extended tenure of APMCs was to end on Saturday. Citing procurement of chana, lentil and mustard under price support scheme (PSS) and sale of onions, garlic, urad and summer moong under Krishak Samruddhi Yojana, the government on Friday said it was not possible to conduct elections.
Madhya Pradesh saw widespread protests over falling farm prices in June last year leading to death of five protesters in police firing near Mandsaur. The government has taken a slew of measures since the protests.
The Congress accused the government of being scared to face farmers. “If the government claims it has run pro-farmer schemes, has clocked highest agriculture growth rate in the country and has won Krishi Karman awards, why has it postponed the polls twice?’’ said state Congress chief Kamal Nath.
A bureaucrat said the government had postponed the polls six months ago on ground of drought. “It does not want to take a gamble… A loss would augur bad for the government,’’ he said.