Suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha said on Friday that the Opposition and the Bharatiya Janata Party were on the same page about the farm sector bills previously. Jha said that the Congress had before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections proposed the abolition of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act, to make agricultural produce free from restrictions.
The Congress and other Opposition parties have been opposing the passage of three farm sector bills. The bills are to be presented in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. They have already been passed in the Lok Sabha.
“Folks, in our Congress Manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we had ourselves proposed abolition of APMC Act and making agricultural produce free from restrictions,” Jha tweeted on Friday. “This is what Modi government has done in the farmers bills. BJP and Congress are on the same page here.”
Jha also tweeted that opening up the national markets for farmers was a “sensible move”. “Opening up the national market for farmers is a sensible move to give greater control over fair to attractive remuneration; less middlemen will boost farmer profitability,” Jha said. “Protection against corporate exploitation can be built-in, as an assured MSP [minimum selling price]. Prima facie, welcome step!”
On Saturday morning, Jha once again expressed support for the bills. He said that one must oppose the prime minister “whenever justified” but that it should not be a “mindless obsession”.
He tweeted: “On APMC [Agricultural produce market committee], there is a simple test: Does not APMC abolition end monopoly/cartels & so boost farmer’s income? If yes, back the bills.”
In response, BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya said Jha is the only person who seems to have read the Congress manifesto. “The only person, who seems to have read the Congress manifesto, remembers it and is appalled at the duplicity of its leadership, who are conveniently abroad, while the Parliament is on and important steps to empower farmers are being taken,” Malviya tweeted. “Congress can ignore their manifesto but how about Dr Manmohan Singh?” Malviya also tweeted a link to a 2012 report in which then-prime minister Manmohan Singh had urged states to amend the APMC Act.
Malviya also tweeted a video of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi endorsing agricultural reforms to benefit farmers, in 2014, calling the party a “hypocrite”.
Lok Sabha has passed the bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. The bills will be taken up on Sunday in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Congress has demanded that the discussion on the bills take place on Friday itself. Opposition members created a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha over the matter.