NCP Hits Out At BJP, Says Centre Failed To Address Farmers’ Grievances
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday said when its chief Sharad Pawar was the agriculture minister during the UPA regime, he persuaded many “reluctant” states to implement the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government’s Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase pointed this out after government sources shared the letters Pawar wrote to many chief ministers when he was the Union minister.
“The model Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act 2003 was introduced by the Vajpayee-led NDA government. However, many state governments were reluctant to implement it at that point of time. After taking over as Union agriculture minister, Pawar tried to form a broader consensus amongst state agriculture marketing boards by inviting suggestions for the implementation of the Act,” Tapase said.
“The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained (by Pawar) to various state governments after which many state governments came forward to implement it. Farmers across the country are benefitting from the implementation of the Act which was finetuned by Pawar to protect farmers’ interests,” Tapase said.
Meanwhile, the new farm laws introduced by the Modi-led government have raised doubts and made farmers insecure regarding issues like minimum support price, Tapase added.
“The BJP regime has also failed to address many other issues in the new farm laws, which has led largescale protests by farmers across the country. The Modi regime could not form a broader consensus and has failed to clarify legitimate apprehensions of the farmers and entire Opposition,” Tapase said.
With Pawar backing the farmers’ protest against the contentious agriculture reforms, government sources on Sunday pointed out that as the agriculture minister in the UPA dispensation he had asked chief ministers to amend the APMC Act in their states to allow the private sector to play an important role in the field.
Pawar is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on December 9 over the ongoing farmers’ protest against the new agrarian laws after the NCP joined other Opposition parties and expressed support for the ‘Bharat Bandh’ scheduled to be held on December 8.
Government sources said Pawar in a 2010 letter to the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said that the agriculture sector needs well-functioning markets to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in rural areas of the country.
“This requires huge investments in marketing infrastructure including cold-chain. And for this, private sector participation is essential, for which an appropriate regulatory and policy environment needs to be in place,” Pawar’s letter had stated, calling for amending the state APMC Act.
In a similar letter to the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Pawar had underlined the need for investments in post-harvest and marketing infrastructure from the farm gate to the consumer and said “private sector needs to play an important role in this regard”.
Pawar was the agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister in the Manmohan Singh-led government.
The NCP chief on Sunday asked the Centre to take serious cognisance of the ongoing farmers’ protest and said if the deadlock continues, the agitation will not be limited to Delhi and people from across the country will join the protests.