Chintan Shivir: Congress proposes legal guarentee for MSP, no criminal case on farmers defaulting on loan

Sharing the broad ideas which emerged at the discussions, Hooda said agriculture should be considered an industry as far as banking is concerned

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin

Ashlin Mathew

It has emerged that as a part of the brainstorming session on agriculture, Congress has proposed to legalise Minimum Support Price (MSP) for 23 crops on the basis of the MS Swaminathan Commission and set up a National Farm Debt Relief Commission to address the issues of farmers, highlighted Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the convenor of the agriculture panel at the Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir being held at Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Sharing the broad ideas which emerged at the discussions, Hooda said agriculture should be considered an industry as far as banking is concerned. The former Haryana CM sought legal guarantees for MSP and universal procurement on MSP, which would imply that MSP would cover all agricultural produce. Hooda underlined that they supported implementing agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan’s recommendation that farmers should be given MSP under the C2+50 percent formula. That is, the total cost of the crop (C2) and the profit thereon is 50 per cent.

He was joined by Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Nana Patole, Punjab CLP leader Partap Singh Bajwa, Chhattisgarh health minister TS Singh Deo, RS MPs Shaktisinh Gohil and Akhilesh Prasad Singh.

“Currently, criminal cases are slapped on farmers when they default on their loans, but just as in the Mudra loan scheme, debt default by farmers should not be a criminal offence. Universal procurement on MSP will aid crop diversification by offsetting farmer losses,” underscored Hooda. He pointed out that the Congress is for redesigning PM Kisan Bima Yojna so that private insurance companies do not pocket profit at the behest of India’s poor farmers. Hooda explicitly stated that the Congress considers farmers with land, landless farmers, tenants and workers as farmers.

Ahead of the Chintan Shivir, Haryana’s Leader of Opposition held meetings with farmers to prepare an agenda paper on “upliftment of farmers and agriculture”. As a part of the deliberations at Chintan Shivir, Hooda proposed that all crops should be insured, including crops damaged due to climate change and explained that the damage assessment should be done by the government instead of private firms.

Highlighting that the government is fooling the people on subsidies, Hooda said that subsidies reduced from 7.07 lakh crore to 4.33 lakh crore in 21-22.

Deo said that at the Shivir he had presented a workable model on minimum income guarantee for farmers based on the NYAY scheme proposed by Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Under 'Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Bhoomiheen Krishi Mazdoor Nyay Yojana' , ₹6,000 is being provided annually to such families of rural areas who do not have agricultural land and are associated with MGNREGA or agricultural wages.

The Chhattisgarh government has paid close to ₹1,600 crore to the bank accounts of about 21 lakh farmers under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana. The Chhattisgarh government also transferred an amount of ₹3.49 crore for cow dung purchased from cattle rearers and women self-help groups under the GodhanNyay Yojana.

The Chhattisgarh government also expanded the scope of MSP to include paddy, along with other Kharif crops. However, despite a pre-intimation by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to procure 60 lakh metric tonne of rice under the central pool for the kharif season, they haven’t done so.

“The state government paid Rs 2,500 per quintal, but the union government wanted to pay Rs 1,960, so they have not lifted all the paddy procured. The union government said that any state giving any bonus/ financial incentive in direct or indirect form, over and above MSP, will be considered as outside the state pool,” added Deo.

Congress is considering the inclusion of farm labour under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act as it is currently not included, said Patole.

Slamming the government on the ban on wheat export, Bajwa said that this is the only time that farmers earn some money. “This government is anti-farmer. On March 8, this government asked farmers to seize the opportunity to export wheat. On March 16, the government said they were not looking to curb wheat exports. On April 13, Modi said that India can feed the world if WTO allows. Then, on May 5, PM Modi stated that the government would ensure that India emerged as world’s source of quality food grain and finally on May 14, the Centre banned export of wheat. This is what the Modi government is doing,” asserted Bajwa.

Criticising the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab, Bajwa said Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann had claimed that no farmer suicide will take place and Arvind Kejriwal had guaranteed this too. “But, even after several farmers died by suicide in April in Punjab, the CM has not even visited a single family. Neither has Kejriwal highlighted it,” added Bajwa.

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Published: 14 May 2022, 5:25 PM