Gujarat BJP vice-president Gordhan Zadafia on Thursday accused the Badals of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), its former ally in the NDA, of being “commission agents”, while addressing the kisan sammelan in Deesa, organised to “create awareness” about the three new farm laws. Addressing the farmers during the meeting in the “potato-growing belt” of Banaskantha in North Gujarat, Zadafia said that the reforms will help farmers “buy four-wheelers” to reach their farms.
“The changes in these legislations when implemented, will ensure that traders queue up in your farms. The laws will free the farmers… The days of freedom, where a farmer will take a four-wheeler to the farm has already begun,” said Zadafia. The meeting was attended by some 500-odd farmers from Banaskantha and Patan district wearing BJP scarves, who had gathered at a compound of a private cold storage operator dealing in potatoes.
“The way, the country gained Independence in 1947, the farmers have gained their freedom in 2020. The results will be seen in the next five years, when agriculture processing industries, those involved in value-addition, storage and exporters will queue up in your farms,” he told the farmers in Banaskantha which pipped Agra in Uttar Pradesh to become the biggest potato producing hub in the country.
Taking a dig at SAD in Punjab, who are supporting the farmers’ protest, he said, “People ask why your ally Harsimrat Kaur Badal (SAD leader and former Union Food Processing Industries Minister) resigned. The resignation happened because her family was one of the commission agents — the Badal family. The problem is that there is 7.5 per cent cess in APMCs and there are over 1800 APMCs in Punjab and Haryana.”
The BJP leader also took on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar. “Do you all know why Sharad Pawar is having a stomach ache? His daughter Supriya (Sule) sold sugarcane worth Rs 100 crore. She calls herself a farmer. The government got to know of it,” he alleged.
Zadafia also criticised Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. “It is he who had requested for contract farming. Punjab has contract farming from 2003. Maharashtra has it from 2006.”.
Asking farmers to remain alert regarding the agitation happening in Punjab and Haryana, he said, “The protests at Shaheen Baug went on for three months. Was it pulled back? Was the repealing of Article 370 rolled back? The agricultural laws were discussed in the Parliament for four days. It was not passed in secrecy.”
He said due to Covid-19 concerns the meeting was limited to 400-500 farmers.
Banas Dairy chairman and senior BJP leader Shankar Chaudhary said it was the middlemen who are unhappy with the amendments in the farm legislations.
“Contract farming has started in Banaskantha among potato farmers…. Contract farming has helped fix prices for farmers produce irrespective of what the prices will be in the open market when the harvest happens,” Chaudhary added.
He said even Banas Dairy has started contract farming to source potatoes. “Other companies have also started contract farming in Banaskantha. The farmer is now assured about prices… In order to ensure that this happens in other crops, (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi has brought in these legislations,” Chaudhary added.
KC Patel, general secretary of the state unit of BJP said the agitators were trying to “disturb the government at the Centre.”
Patel pointed out how the consolidated agricultural income of Gujarat rose by 77 per cent in 12 years. “In 2007, the total agricultural income of Gujarat, which includes animal husbandry, stood at Rs 9000 crore. By 2019, this rose to Rs 1.6 lakh crore,” he claimed.