Congress made the same promises: Narendra Singh Tomar on farm bills

Narendra Singh Tomar. File  

A day after the monsoon session of Parliament ended amid a flurry of protests by the Opposition over three farm Bills, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar demanded that the Congress first disassociate itself from its own 2019 poll manifesto that promised the same agricultural reforms as done by the Modi government. “If Rahul Gandhi agrees with the Congress manifesto of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, then he should join efforts in educating farmers,” Mr. Tomar said.

Addressing a presser at the BJP headquarters here, Mr. Tomar reiterated the government’s commitment to farmers’ welfare and said the new measures would bring them remunerative price for their produce. He also said the government was open to holding talks with farmers to assuage any doubts among them on the efficacy of the reforms. “If any farmer wants to speak to any government representative on these Bills even at midnight, we are ready,” he said.

Responding to the demand by the Opposition that continuation of the minimum support price (MSP) should be mentioned in the law, he said the MSP was always an administrative decision. “Why did the Congress not bring a law during its 50 years of rule if it thinks this was necessary,” he asked. He also cited reports of various commissions and reported views of Sharad Pawar, who was Agriculture Minister in the UPA government, to assert that these Bills are in line with their recommendations.

‘Withdraw manifesto’

Asked about Mr. Gandhi’s charge that the Modi government had harmed farmers and was now doing “PR”, Mr. Tomar said the Congress leader should first withdraw his party’s manifesto if he wanted to oppose the Bills.

The new laws will allow farmers to get paid for their produce in advance, help them move products which will fetch them better price and allow them to sell their produce outside agriculture ‘mandis’ without paying any taxes, he said.

“Farmers, so far, were forced to sell their produce in mandis. In Punjab, there’s 8.5% tax in the mandis on several items. Now, through these Bills, the farmer will be able to sell his produce even outside the ambit of the mandi, even outside his State at any price he chooses,” Mr. Tomar said.

Parliament has passed the three farm reform Bills — the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill — in the session, which concluded on Wednesday. They will become laws after getting the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind and being notified.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 1:53:27 PM |

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