Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday accused the Congress of being a hypocrite by demanding the withdrawal of the Centre’s three new farming laws as the Contract Farming Act was passed when the party was in power. He also reiterated the Centre’s assurances to the farmers that the minimum support price will stay.
The environment minister said he had complete confidence that the standoff between the farmers and the Centre over the agricultural laws will be resolved soon. “If the farmers have any confusion, then it is our job to clear them,” he said. “But, the Congress, who is asking to roll back these laws, is hypocritical as they themselves had passed the Contract Farming Act while in power.”
Many states, ruled by parties other than the Bharatiya Janata Party, also accepted the Model Act on Agricultural Produce Market Committee, proposed by Sharad Pawar, Javadekar noted, adding that the Congress had mentioned the introduction of these laws in their manifesto.
The minister said the key demands of the farmers were that Agricultural Produce Market Committees and minimum support price should remain. “The answer to this is clear, both APMCs and MSP will continue as they have since their inception,” Javadekar was quoted as saying by ANI. “This year’s procurement by the government, despite the laws in place, is proof of that. Lakhs of farmers in Punjab sold their produce in APMCs on MSP this year too.”
Union Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was not new for Opposition parties to mislead the public, and tarnish the country’s image. “Parties like Congress, NCP [Nationalist Congress Party], Akali Dal and Left supported such bills while they were in power,” he said.
The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and four Left parties are among the political outfits that have extended their support to the farmers’ call for a countrywide strike.
The leaders of farmers groups had said that the Bharat Bandh on Tuesday will be peaceful, and no shops and establishments will be forcibly closed. The Centre, however, asked the states to tighten security and ensure that peace was not disrupted.
On Monday also, the BJP had accused Opposition parties of “shameful double standards” citing instances where it claimed that they supported provisions similar to the three new agriculture laws. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed said at a press briefing that Congress’ manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls had promised to repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act and make agri-trade free from all restrictions.
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Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for the thirteenth consecutive day to reverse the agricultural legislation’s. The farmers agitation has been met with violent action from police, who have attempted to turn them back by using water cannons and tear gas. The authorities had taken extraordinary measures to set up blockades on highways – parking buses, trucks and other large vehicles. At some places, they even dug up trenches to obstruct farmers, many of whom camped on highways for the night in chilling temperatures.
Five rounds of talks between the farmers and the Centre have failed to break the impasse oveer the new laws. Another round of negotiations is scheduled for December 9.