Chidu slams govt distorting cong manifesto: Time for parties to stand for farmers

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/20/2020 12:48:52 PM

NEW DELHI, Sep 19: Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday slammed the BJP government for distorting the Congress manifesto to justify its nefarious attempt to destroy the food security system based on the pillars of MSP (minimum support price), Public Procurement and PDS (public distribution system) through the anti-farmer Bills passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
"A little knowledge is dangerous; little reading is even more dangerous," he said in a statement on the BJP trying to damn the Congress for wrong reasons, asserting that the BJP is caught in a web of its own creations.
"For decades, the BJP was and still is a party dominated by traders and merchants. An economy that was afflicted by shortages of goods and services was exploited by them. That situation began to change with the Green Revolution (pioneered by Indira Gadhi) and liberalisation ushered in by P V Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh."
Chidambaram said on the strength of farmers producing huge surpluses of many farm produce, successive Congress governments built, brick by brick, a food security system that culminated in the National Food Security Ac, 2013.
He said the Congress manifesto of 2019 was based on the foundation principles that the Prime Minister and the BJP spokespersons are deliberately and maliciously distorting and so he went on to list what the Congress promised:
1. To promote Farmers, Producer Companies/Organisations to enable farmers to access inputs, technology and markets.
2. To establish farmers’ markets with adequate infrastructure and support in large villages and small towns to enable the farmer to bring his/her produce and freely market the same.
Chidambaram said the farmers need multiple accessible markets and choice. The Congress proposals would have given them that and once accomplished, the Congress Manifesto promise on repealing the APMC Act and making trade in agricultural produce free would be a natural sequel in course of time.
But instead, the Modi government has surrendered to the corporates and traders, he said and went on to point out that the two farm Bills pushed by it in Parliament after imposing on the country through Ordinances do not contain a clause that the price that the farmer will get from the private purchaser shall not be less than the MSP. Why is such a clause absent, he asked.
He said the Bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer today, without creating thousands of alternative markets that will be accessible to the farmer. He went on to list other lacuna in the two Bills:
-- The Bills assume perversely that the farmer and the private purchaser have equal bargaining power. They do not. The small farmer will be at the
mercy of the private purchaser;
-- If a dispute arises between the farmer and the private purchaser, the machinery under the Bills is so bureaucratic and convoluted that no farmer will have the strength or the resources to fight the purchaser. The small and medium farmer will be ruined.
"The Congress and other Opposition parties must join hands to oppose the Bills in every forum and ensure that they do not become law in the present form. Every party has to take a stand — is it with the farmers or is it with the BJP threatening the livelihood of farmers," Chidambaram added.



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