Congress-ruled States will delist the fruits, vegetables from APMC Acts

Worried that rising prices and inflation could adversely impact the prospects of the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections, as they did in the recent Assembly elections, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday unveiled a four-point prescription for the 12 Congress-ruled States after meeting 11 of the Chief Ministers who gathered here for a meeting.

This will include steps to bring down the prices of vegetables and fruits and reforming the Public Distribution System.

After the daylong interaction with Chief Ministers, top Union Ministers and general secretaries at which Mr. Gandhi had set the agenda for discussion with opening remarks on corruption and inflation, Congress communication chief Ajay Maken listed the four measures that Congress Chief Ministers agreed to implement. “All Congress-ruled States will by January 15 delist the fruits and vegetables from their respective Agricultural Produce Markets Committee (APMC) Acts so that the farmers have a choice where to sell their produce and consumers will get the benefit of lower prices,” Mr. Maken said.

Party sources later clarified that the changes to include or exclude items from the list can be done through an executive order and will not require the State governments to go through the assemblies. All Congress-ruled States have also been directed to invoke the Essential Commodities Act to deal sternly with hoarding, blackmarketing and profiteering, with chronic offenders detained under the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980, Mr. Maken said.

All these States will also take immediate steps to open fair price shops, either government-owned or run by women's self-help groups, to sell fruits, vegetables and eggs at fair and reasonable prices. Finally, these States have been asked to immediately implement the PDS reforms stipulated in the National Food Security Act, 2013 to eliminate leakages and to ensure that foodgrains reach the intended beneficiaries.

The Chief Ministers expressed their unhappiness over the implementation of the Aadhaar-linked subsidy on LPG cylinders.

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