Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today accused non-BJP parties of jumping onto the bandwagon of the farmers’ protest, and said whatever has been done in the NDA government’s farm sector reforms, was on the opposition’s to-do list when it was in power. His attack was mostly focussed on the Congress, which the minister said, was in favour of privatisation when in power. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar — the agriculture minister in the UPA government – was also targeted by the minister a day before the all-India strike in favour of the farmers, which has been supported by trade unions and opposition parties.
Mr Prasad said the repeal of the APMC Act was part of the 2019 manifesto of the Congress. Contract farming also started during the Manmohan Singh government in many Congress states, the minister said.
It was clearly mentioned in the manifesto, Mr Prasad said, that the Congress will “repeal the APMC act and make inter-state trade free of restrictions”.
“In an interview with Shekhar Gupta, Sharad Pawar the APMC Act will end in six months… The recommendation of the Planning Commission came during the UPA government that the central government may enact inter-state agriculture trade act,” Mr Prasad said.
“When Sharad Pawar was saying that if we do not improve then we will stop giving financial support, then SP, TDP, Left were all supporting Manmohan government. This is your double character. You are ready to go to any limit,” he added.
The BJP started its retaliation at the protesting farmers and the opposition on Sunday, picking out instances of their support to individual aspects of the farm bills in the past.
BL Santosh, the general secretary of the BJP, tweeted an article from Punjab-based English daily the Tribune on Sunday, headlined “Allow corporates to procure wheat: Farmers”.
“This was in 2008. Farmers of Punjab & Haryana demanding allowing of corporates in agri marketing. Just understand the duplicity of the same unions now,” read the accompanying tweet, which carried the hashtag #FarmersWithModi.
Today, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called all parties supporting the bandh “hypocrites”.
“Maharashtra had passed a law. There are private APMCs running. There are value chains available even now. So I’m surprised that what Maharashtra did during our time, what’s wrong if the Centre does it?” he said.
“On 27 December 2013, Rahul Gandhi had said vegetables and fruits will be denotified from APMC Act. Now that the Centre is doing that, what is wrong?” he questioned.