Ahead of the nationwide road blockade called by farm unions to protest the new farm laws on November 5, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal on Friday accused Opposition parties and the Punjab government of trying to mislead farmers and said the Centre is always open to a dialogue.
Addressing reporters over a video conference, Goyal gave details of the ongoing kharif paddy procurement across the country and said that about 1.57 crore farmers are expected to be benefited by the procurement — 26 per cent more than last year.
“I think a message will go all over the country through these figures that the farmers did not get misled by the attempts of spreading confusion,” Goyal said, citing data of the ongoing paddy procurement. Referring to farmers’ protests, Goyal said, “You saw that it was limited to Punjab only because the Government (of Punjab) and some of parties are engaged in doing politics and they are standing with middlemen and not concerned about the interest of the farmers.”
Asked if he will directly engage with farmers’ groups, Goyal said, “We are always in engagement. I myself engaged with farmers in Maharashtra and Rajasthan…All are engaged with communities in different districts of Punjab. Their representatives came to Delhi also, but if they are willing to engage, we are always open to a dialogue and our doors are open.”
“I think it’s a very last ditch failed effort by certain elements in Punjab who are worried that they will lose their political constituency. And unfortunately the state government is not in a position to maintain peace and harmony in that state,” he said.
Goyal said that as of October 29, 188 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) paddy have been procured by the government on MSP, 24 per cent higher than last year.
The paddy procurement started from September 26 this year, 4 days ahead of the routine start from October 1.
He said an amount of Rs 1,40,078 crore is expected to be paid to paddy farmers under MSP-based procurement, 21 per cent higher than Rs 1,15,172 crore last year. “The procurement has been doubled under the Modi government… the farmers of India trust Prime Minister Modi… It’s unfortunate that in one state, politics and certain vested interests have overtaken temporarily, over there also procurement is the highest this year. I think it is around 37 per cent higher in Punjab,” Goyal said.
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