Congress Veteran Digvijay Singh said that former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had introduced the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers which is being diluted by the BJP led NDA Government at the pressure of the World Trade Orgnization(WTO).
Congress MP Mr.Singh made this allegation while addressing a Media Meet here as part of the opposition Congress’s nationwide protest to the farm and labor bills recently passed in the Parliament.
“It was Lal Bahadur Shastri who introduced the MSP system keeping in view the interest of the farmers, to ensure that the cultivators get justice. He had set up the cost and price commission to fix MSP. However, the present BJP government has been trying to dilute it at the international pressure”, the Congress Veteranalleged.
“The efforts are being made through the farm bills to allow multinational companies to enter the agriculture market in India at the pressure of the WTO,” he said adding that companies will be allowed to open their own “Mandi” (market yard) for procurement across the country.
Mr. Singh said the farmers will be exposed to exploitation as there will be no government control on the companies to be engaged in procurement.
“There is also no provision in the Bill basing on which an exploited farmer can approach the court of law. The farmers have to first lodge complaints with the sub-collector and later with the district collectors. If the farmer does not get justice from the collector, he has to move the central government. Agriculture is a state subject, but the new Bill makes provision where the centre will intervene,” Singh pointed out adding that the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) or Mandi Act will be regulated by the Central Government.
Mr.Singh said, the states cannot take action against the traders who hoard excess items as there is no upper limit on the stock. “Indirectly, the new legislation will encourage black marketing and help hoarders,” Singh said.
Mr.Singh alleged that there is a systematic attempt to deprive cultivators, laborers of their rights.
He said the previous UPA Government led by Congress had formulated several laws which gave rights to people on land, education, information and food despite the international pressure.
“In 1993, the then Minister Commerce and Industry Pranab Mukeherjee had outright refused to accept the international pressure for the interest of small farmers and traders.” Congress MP reminded.
The senior leader also said that the Congress has all along resisted the international pressure from the WTO.
Mr.Singh also blamed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for supporting the farm bills in Lok Sabha though the regional party later opposed it in the Rajya Sabha.
“There is a secret understanding between BJP and the BJD. Both are anti-farmers,” former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh alleged.