Cong: Govt didn't learn a lesson from Bihar

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/24/2020 11:32:34 PM

NEW DELHI, Sep 24: The Congress regretted that the Modi government did not learn from the experiment of Bihar in abolishing the agricultural mandis in 2006 where the government procurement is not even 1% and the procurement centres are closing down, leaving the farmers in lurch to sell their produces at throwaway prices.
Its senior spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told a Press conference that the government steered clear of the prime issue of the Minimum Support Price (MSP), refusing to put it in the two farm Bills passed by Parliament and making an excuse that it is not removing the MSP. He said this is half truth which is much dangerous than a lie since there is no explanation who will ensure the MSP when the farmer is told to go and sell anywhere in the country.
Singhvi said the government is advancing the same logic of its steps increasing the investment in agriculture, but the same logic was applied to abolish the Mandis in Bihar but the investment didn't go up. The state produced 61 lakh tonnes of wheat, but the procurement for the public distribution system was a paltry 50,000 tonnes.
He said it was the government's ego trip and obstinacy in refusing the Bills sent to the select or standing committee of Parliament. Nothing would have been lost in three months if the matter were sent to the committee. But the government wanted to pass them "here and now" because the hidden agenda behind them is to implement the Shanta Kumar panel's recommendation to abolish procurement and save Rs 1 lakh crore a year, Singhvi said.
Singhvi, who is also a prominent senior advocate of the Supreme Court, said the Bills would be challenged in Courts since they encroach upon the exclusive constitutional powers on agriculture, trade and commerce within a state and markets.
He also hit out at the concept of the contract farming brought through the Bills which even the Constitution makers resisted since they know that an average size of holding of a farmer is two acres while 85% of them own less than five acres of land. The bargaining power of these small farmers against the big money bags will be just zero, he said, asserting that the whole exercise is to revive "Samantvad" (feudalism) or Jamindari that was abolished effectively during the Indira Gandhi government.
Singhvi also regretted that the Bills have no provision for the dispute resolution, except for the SDO decide which is no mechanism. As regards the government claim that the farmer is now free to sell his produce anywhere in the country, he said there were no restrictions even earlier but you don't expect a farmer of Punjab taking his produce to sell in Kerala. It is like the then French rulers advice to eat cake if people don't have bread.
He said Prime Minister Modi and his ministers and BJP leaders must have said more than 100 times to double the farmer's income by 2022, but not any more because it required the growth of 14-15% while today the GDP has sunk to a minus growth. He said even the MSP rates declared by the government early this week are misleading if one examines them on the yardstick of year-and-year growth. Also what use of the MSP when the inflation surpasses it, he asked.
Singhvi said the presiding officer of a House has no option but to go for recording votes even if one member seeks division. On Sunday, not one but dozens of MPs sought division in the Rajya Sabha but the deputy chairman ignored them and went on to help the government by declaring the two Bills passed by the voice vote.
He said Sunday was not the last day to show so much hurry in passing the Bills, particularly when the House time was over at 1 PM and the deputy chairman could have adjourned the voting for the next day. But the government didn't want the division since it knew it does not have the numbers. He hoped that President Ram Nath Kovind will not sign the Bills and send them back to Parliament for reconsideration on the strength of a memorandum submitted by the Congress on the gross irregularities in their passage in the Upper House.



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