Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar hails Farm Bills, accuses Congress of 'misleading farmers'
- The Farm Bills were passed during the Monsoon Session of Parliament
- Farmers in Haryana and Punjab are protesting over the Bills
- The Bills were passed amid protests by the Opposition
As farmers in Haryana and Punjab are protesting against the three Farm Bills that were passed in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar tried to allay farmers' concerns and accused the Congress of "misleading farmers".
In an interview with ANI, Tomar claimed that the Bills will free the farmers from the shackles of APMCs (agricultural produce market committees) and will give them price guarantee at time of sowing.
APMCs are marketing boards established by state governments to ensure farmers are safeguarded from exploitation by large retailers.
The Minister told farmers to wait until the Bills are implemented and that they would bring a change in their lives.
He specifically referred to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 that defines a 'trade area', which excludes the APMC mandis.
Tomar said that the Centre doesn't intend to shut down the APMC mandis. "Our law says that trade area outside APMC mandis will be free from tax. Farmers will have the freedom to choose where they want to sell," he said.
He hit out at Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh over his comments against the specific Bill.
"Punjab CM is just making political comments. I want to ask him, why did his election manifesto say they'll do away with APMC Act & promote inter-state trade?" Tomar asked.
"Congress said it in both their national & state manifestos."
"If Congress leaders say they are now going back on their manifesto promises, I can listen to their arguments," he added and accused the party of "misleading farmers with baseless points".
He said the Opposition was misleading the farmers as they themselves couldn't bring such reforms. The former prime minister "Manmohan Singh & Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar wanted to bring reforms, but due to pressure from some people, UPA couldn’t muster courage," the Minister said.
He termed all the three Bills that have raised concerns among farmers as "revolutionary".
After the Oppostion staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Ghulam Nabi Azad put forward their demands. One of them was that the government should bring a law under which no private players could purchase farmers' produce below the MSP.
"Has MSP ever been part of law? Congress ruled for 50 yrs, why didn’t they incorporate it in law?" said Tomar on Thursday.
Since the APMC mandis have been excluded from the Bill, farmers have raised concerns over whether the MSP system will be scrapped.
Allaying their concerns, the Minister said, "MSP will continue, we have declared MSP for Kharif and Rabi crops. As soon as Kharif crop is harvested, govt procurement will begin."
He also spoke on the disruptions in Rajya Sabha during the passage of two Farm Bills on Sunday.
"Rajya Sabha discussed the Farm Bills for over four hours after which I had to reply but Congress created ruckus undemocratically. They committed a cowardly act with Deputy Chairman and obstructed proceedings," Tomar said.
Protesting over the Farm Bills on Sunday, several Opposition MPs rushed to the well of Rajya Sabha to protest. The MPs threw the House rule book at Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was chairing the proceedings.
Eight MPs were suspended by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu over their "unruly behaviour" towards his deputy.