Rejecting the proposal of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) for a freeze, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday demanded that the Centre must immediately announce Rs.1800 per quintal as the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat for next Rabi season.

Through a statement issued here Mr. Badal said that the proposal of giving a bonus of Rs.40 per quintal over last year’s MSP of Rs.1285, amounted to rubbing salt on the wounds of the farmers instead of bailing them out of crisis. He said that the apathetic attitude of Congress-led UPA Government towards peasantry stood exposed by this decision, which would have far reaching repercussions on the farming community that was already reeling under heavy debt due to the wrong policies of the Union Government.

Justifying his demand, Mr. Badal emphasised the need to offset the recent increase in costs of farm inputs which had accounted for at least Rs.1000 crore as extra burden on farmers. He cautioned that the prevailing MSP was much below the expectations of the farmers and would unleash a further slowdown in the primary sector. He said that it was a paradoxical situation that when the country had been importing wheat from Australia at much higher price, there was hardly any justification to deprive the local producers of the same price.

Mr. Badal said that Congress should have rewarded the farmers, especially of Punjab, for their contribution in making country self-reliant in the food grain production at the expense of their only two precious resources of water and soil. He said that denial of hike in MSP on wheat spoke volumes of the UPA’s tough anti-farmer posture. “These anti-peasant policies would jeopardise the country’s food security,” he sounded a grim warning.

The Chief Minister said that before taking such irrational decisions the leaders of UPA government should have reviewed the agriculture scenario in a holistic manner and acted responsibly to prevent the peasantry from pushed towards economic disaster by recklessly hiking the cost of agricultural inputs.

Mr. Badal said that the UPA owed an explanation to the farmers regarding the ever widening gap between the agricultural costs of inputs and squeezed margin of profit due to stagnated MSP to the farmers in their regime since 2004. He said that it was time that the Centre was honest and fair while deciding the issues relating to peasantry rather than politicising them.

More In: NEW DELHI | NATIONAL