SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said the SAD would not allow tinkering with the minimum support price (MSP) or assured marketing of wheat and paddy as he released a copy of the Punjab Congress’s 2017 Assembly election manifesto “which clearly states that the party will amend the State APMC Act to allow private mandis in the State”.
Sukhbir also hit out at the Congress for “failing maize farmers besides demanding a CBI inquiry into purchase of agricultural machinery from private companies at inflated rates”.
Addressing a virtual conference here, the SAD president said “despite promising in the party election manifesto that it would amend the APMC Act, the Congress party was now playing politics on this issue by misleading farmers that the MSP and assured marketing system would end. This is furthest from the truth. The SAD is a party of farmers. We understand the problems of farmers and have always fought for their rights. Let me assure our brave farmers that the SAD will not stand any discrimination against them. We will not allow anyone to tinker with MSP and assured marketing policy now or anytime in the future also”.
Sukhbir also reiterated that he would take up the issue in Parliament and take an assurance from the Centre that MSP and assured marketing of wheat and paddy would not be tinkered with in any manner whatsoever. “I am also ready to accompany farmer organisations and seek whatever clarifications they need from the Union agriculture minister,” he said.
Sukhbir held Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh “directly responsible for the plight of the maize farmers of the State”. He said “against an MSP of Rs 1,825 per quintal, maize was selling at Rs 600 to Rs 800 per quintal in the Doaba region of the State”. Asking Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar to “wake up the chief minister from his slumber”, the SAD president said “the government should include maize in the PDS system and purchase the same at MSP. This should be done immediately to save the maize farmers of the Doaba region from ruin”. He also said that the Congress government had failed to implement the scheme whereby the Centre reimbursed states whose farmers were forced to sell maize at prices less than the MSP. He said Haryana and Madhya Pradesh had taken advantage of the scheme for which the Union government had allocated Rs 14,000 crore this year.
Sukhbir also demanded a CBI inquiry into the “multi-crore scam in the purchase of agriculture equipment from private companies”. He said the Congress government had committed a fraud against farmers by subsidising purchase of agriculture machinery from private companies. He said “the machinery so purchased was more expensive than that available in the open market and of poorer quality also”. He said the subsidy should have been given directly to farmers and they should have been allowed to purchase the machinery as per their needs. He demanded that the government should order a CBI inquiry into “this scam”, saying “the state officials had colluded with politicians to loot the state exchequer”