The Congress today expressed doubt over the BJP government’s intention to grant legal guarantee to MSP on farm produce, alleging that the terms of reference of the committee set up in this regard have been diluted and it will not be able to fulfil the farmers’ demand.
Congress leader and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said at a press conference that farmers are getting deeper into debt due to the government’s policies instead of their incomes being doubled by 2022, a promise made by the BJP that remains unfulfilled.
Citing several instances where the Centre’s policies are “not favourable” to the farming community, Mr Hooda said the dream shown by the government to double farmers’ incomes has been shattered as they are not even getting the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.
While the government is waiving off non-performing assets (NPAs) worth crores of corporates, the loans granted to farmers are growing, leading them further into debt.
“The terms of reference of the committee on MSP set up by the government have been diluted and this committee will not be able to give legal guarantee to the minimum support price,” he told reporters.
“The government’s intentions to provide legal guarantee to MSP are doubtful. Had they wanted to give legal sanctity to MSP, they could have given it at the first instance and announced it,” Mr Hooda added.
The former Haryana chief minister said, “We do not feel this committee (of the government) will be able to give legal sanctity to MSP.” Farmers’ organisations also feel that this committee will not be able to give a legal guarantee to MSP as the panel’s terms of reference have been diluted, he claimed.
Mr Hooda, who was chairman of the committee that looked into issues of agriculture during the three-day plenary session of the Congress in Raipur recently, said his party, if it comes to power, will bring a law to give legal guarantee to MSP and selling farm produce below it would be made a punishable offence.
“The incomes of farmers have not doubled but their indebtedness has increased. Farmers are getting deep into debt,” he said and claimed that the farmers’ debt has risen from Rs 9.6 lakh crore in 2014 to 23.44 lakh crore now.
He said the Congress-led UPA had waived farmers’ loans worth Rs 72,000 crore. Some state governments also waived farmers’ loans but the BJP has not done anything to free the farmers from debt.
The senior Congress leader said the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) has turned out to be an “utter failure” and a tool in the hands of corporates for making huge profits.
He alleged that corporate groups have earned Rs 40,000 crore in profits due to the failure of the crop insurance scheme and claimed that the Congress will ensure that only public sector companies are allowed to provide crop insurance.
Mr Hooda added that a revolving fund will be created to help compensate farmers in times of need.
Quoting MS Swaminathan who, in his report on agriculture, had suggested providing MSP at 50 per cent above the C-2 formula of input costs, Mr Hooda said, “If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right.”
The Congress leader said the budget for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, PM Fasal Bima Yojna, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and food subsidies to the agri sector has drastically declined under the BJP regime, indicating that it does not think about the welfare of farmers.
There has also been a drastic reduction in fertiliser subsidy during the last eight years, Hooda claimed.
“There has been a far lower percentage increase in the minimum support price of farm produce during the BJP government against what was done during the UPA regime,” he claimed, adding that the rate of increase has been far less now, due to which the farmers are suffering.
He also added that crop diversification has not taken place during the BJP government.
“Incomes of farmers have not doubled but the cost of inputs have increased and doubled,” he said, adding that the price of diesel has doubled despite crude oil prices falling in the last eight years.
Mr Hooda also called for coordination between the export policy and agriculture to ensure that farmers get better remuneration for their produce.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)