APMC act: Chidambaram defends Congress manifesto, attacks BJP

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 19, 2020 Published on September 19, 2020

Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram   -  THE HINDU

As the BJP started attacking the Congress saying that there is duplicity in the Opposition's approach towards APMC Act as the Congress manifesto for 2019 elections had promised it, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram came in defence of his party and said a little knowledge is dangerous; little reading is even more dangerous.

He said the BJP is caught in a web of its own creation and it is a party dominated by traders and merchants. "An economy that was afflicted by shortages of goods and services was exploited by them. That situation began to change with the Green Revolution (pioneered by Indira Gandhi) and liberalisation (ushered in by P V Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh)," Chidambaram said.


Food security system

He said the three pillars of our food security system are MSP, public orocurement and PDS. He added that the Congress Manifesto 2019 was based on the foundational principles laid out by previous Congress-led governments. "The Prime Minister and the BJP spokespersons have deliberately and maliciously distorted the Congress Manifesto. We promised to promote Farmers Producer Companies/ Organisations to enable farmers to access inputs, technology and markets," he said.

He said farmers need multiple accessible markets and choice. "The Congress’ proposals would have given them that. Once that is accomplished, the Congress Manifesto promise on repealing the APMC Act and making trade in agricultural produce free would be a natural sequel in course of time. While our promise is clear, the Modi government has surrendered to the corporates and traders," he said.

Regarding the two Farm Bills

He claimed that the two Farm Bills do not contain a clause that the price that the farmer will get from the private purchaser shall not be less than the MSP. "Why is such a clause absent? The Bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer today, without creating thousands of alternative markets that will be accessible to the farmer," he said. The small farmer will be at the mercy of the private purchaser now. "If a dispute arises between the farmer and the private purchaser, the machinery under the Bills is so bureaucratic and convoluted that no farmer will have the strength or the resources to fight the purchaser. The small and medium farmer will be ruined. The Bills undermine the three pillars of our food security system," he said.

He said Congress and other Opposition parties must join hands to oppose the Bills in every forum and ensure that they do not become law in the present form. "Every party has to take a stand — is it with the farmers or is it with the BJP threatening the livelihood of farmers?," he asked.

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Published on September 19, 2020
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