Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday demanded an unconditional apology from the Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve for “misleading” the nation on the farm ordinances issue from the floor of the House in a clear and complete breach of Parliamentary principles and propriety.
Rejecting as “totally incorrect” Danve’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Monday about Punjab being on board the anti-farmer ordinances, the Chief Minister said that the Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution remarks were aimed at defaming the Congress and its Government in the State.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar also slammed the Union Minister for “violating the sanctity of Parliament with his false statement” on the issue in the House on Monday, and termed it an attempt to denigrate the Congress Government in Punjab with misleading information.
The Chief Minister, in a statement, said that at no point did the high-powered committee make any suggestion about bringing these anti-farmers ordinances, which the Centre introduced on the sly amid the pandemic and has now placed in the Parliament for enactment through false pretensions.
“The Minister should apologize immediately and unequivocally for presenting false facts in the Lok Sabha,” said Capt Amarinder, describing the statement in Lok Sabha as undemocratic and unethical, and a violation of the parliamentary principles.
The Chief Minister said that the Punjab Government has consistently and persistently opposed any move to dilute the farmers’ rights and interests, not only in the high-powered committee on agricultural reforms but in the state Assembly and on all public forums. “It is our Government which had initiated the resolution in the Vidhan Sabha rejecting the ordinances,” he pointed out, adding that he personally had written twice to the Prime Minister seeking the withdrawal of the anti-farmer and anti-farmer legislations that would spell the death-knell of the farming community in Punjab.
The report of the high-powered committee, of which Punjab was made a member weeks after it was constituted, nowhere suggested any ordinance or central law to be enacted by the Government of India, said the Chief Minister, emphatically rejecting any claim to the contrary.
“In fact, the focus of the report was largely on market reforms wherein the implementation of APMC Act 2003/APLM Act, 2017, had been emphasized. Similarly, adoption of Model Contract Farming Act or its variants depending upon the state requirements had been stressed upon in the draft report,” said Capt Amarinder.
He pointed out that in its response to the draft report, the Punjab Government had clearly stated that 86 percent of the state’s farmers are small holders cultivating less than two hectares with little bargaining power in the market. They are illiterate or less educated and cannot be left at the mercy of market forces for determination of commodity prices, the state government had further said.
Pointing out that some states like Punjab are dependent on the market fee, the State Government had further underlined that “the market needs to be monitored or regulated to save the farmers from exploitative private trade”. The farmers must receive reasonable prices for their produce (MSP) which covers their cost of production and a fair level of profit for their living, it had commented.
The State Government’s response further stated that “majority of the farmers are fearful of entering into contracts with large corporate houses…they feel that they may not be able to compete with them in case of any litigation”.
Going further, Punjab Government had categorically and unambiguously stated that with a view to safeguard the interest of farmers and to ensure the food security in the country, “it is emphasized that system of minimum support price (MSP) and the assured procurement of crops by Government of India must continue,” he said.
The government had gone ahead to recommend that other MSP crops, where full and assured procurement is not being undertaken by the Government of India such as cotton, maize, oilseeds and pulses, should be procured fully at MSP fixed by Government of India to encourage farmers to diversify away from paddy which is water intensive.
Capt Amarinder pointed out that the State Government had, in its written response, also said that “the EC Act must be continued for those crops in which India is deficient in order to prevent the exploitative action of the private sector by hoarding and black marketeering”.
The sharing pattern of most of schemes is 60:40 (Centre:State) and this needs to be changed to 90:10 for Punjab, as the state, while pioneering the green revolution in the country, played a major role in making the nation self-reliant in foodgrain production, the Punjab Government had submitted, adding that it was now the Centre’s turn to support the farmers.
PRESENTATION OF FARM ORDINANCES IN PARLIAMENT HAVE EXPOSED SAD FARCE, SAYS CAPT
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that the presentation of farm ordinances in the Parliament a day before by the Centre had totally exposed the farce of Shiromani Akali Dal’s pretense of protecting the interests of the state’s farmers. With the BJP-led NDA Government going ahead with laying the ordinances on the table of the House on the very first day of the Parliament session, instead of accepting SAD’s so-called plea to defer the same, the Akali charade on the issue had been laid bare, said the Chief Minister.
The fact that Sukhbir had stayed away from the House on Monday, when the ordinances were presented for legislation, showed that the entire drama of seeking postponement of their enactment was played out by the SAD president to appease the farmer organizations, which have been up in arms against the ordinances, Capt Amarinder said. “There is clearly a conspiracy to undermine the farmers’ interests and that of the states, which are constitutionally-mandated to be responsible for agriculture,” said the Chief Minister, asking “why else would Sukhbir conveniently remain away from the Parliament on the opening day itself?”
SAD LEADERS MEET BJP PRESIDENT NADDA ON FARM BILLS
Leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday met BJP national president J P Nadda in Delhi and urged him that the Centre address farmers' concerns over three farm bills and also sought that the proposed legislation be sent to a Parliamentary committee. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Rajya Sabha members Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Naresh Gujral and senior leader Prem Singh Chandumajra met Nadda at his residence in Delhi and discussed with him the issue of the three farm bills that were tabled in Parliament on Monday. The Centre on Monday had introduced three farm bills in Lok Sabha. These are 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 SAD, which is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), last week had appealed to the BJP-led Centre not to present the three farm ordinances for approval in Parliament until “all reservations” expressed by farmers are "duly addressed”. Many farmers'' outfits in Punjab have been holding protests against the three farm ordinances promulgated by the Centre. Farmers have expressed apprehension that these three ordinances would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system and they would be at the “mercy” of big corporates. They have been demanding rollback of these ordinances.