NRI businessman's IT firm was behind now-repealed farm laws: Congress
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said that the NRI businessman was also included in a Niti Aayog task force, while adding that for framing the farm laws Adani group and others were consulted
The opposition Congress on Wednesday slammed the government, accusing it of framing the now withdrawn three controversial farm laws on the basis of an idea by a software firm's NRI chief who had nothing to do with agriculture.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said in a tweet in Hindi that the NRI businessman was also included in a Niti Aayog task force, while adding that for framing the farm laws, the consultations were held with corporates like Adani group, Mahindra group, ITC and Patanjali, while excluding farmers.
Tagging a tweet by journalist Nitin Sethi, who is part of an independent journalists' forum called "Reporters' Collective", which has done an investigative report on how the government set up a task force under Niti Aayog reportedly on an idea floated by a NRI businessman, to suggest ways to double farmers' income, Shrinate sought to know from Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether this is the way policies are framed.
"In the name of doubling farmers' incomes, Niti Aayog discreetly set up a task force for corporates to promote their businesses. An NRI businessman, with links to BJP, dictated terms. Part 1 of series by @reporters_co colleague @shreegireesh," Sethi had tweeted earlier on Wednesday.
Meanwhile former vice chairman of government think tank Niti Aayog, Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday, when contacted by IANS, refused to comment on the news report by the Reporters' Collective, which has alleged how the government set up a task force under Niti Aayog reportedly on an idea floated by a NRI businessman, to suggest ways to double farmers' income.
"The report has not been made public till now," the Reporters' Collective news report said, alleging that the businessman was close to the then vice chairman of Niti Aayog Rajiv Kumar.
The two-part news report, whose first part titled "Ahead of Farm Laws, an NRI seeded Idea To Corporatise Agriculture" came out today (August 16), alleges that an NRI businessman named Sharad Marathe, who runs a software company and reportedly has no expertise in agriculture, apparently proposed the idea of setting up a task force to implement the government's idea of doubling farmers' income.
The news report goes on to claim that the businessman was later appointed in the task force, which reportedly "consulted mostly big corporations involved in agriculture commodities trade such as the Adani Group, Patanjali, Big Basket, Mahindra Group and ITC. But no farmers, economists or farmer organisations were consulted before submitting the report in 2018 to the government, whose aim was to double the income of around 60 per cent of Indians who depend on agriculture as imagined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi".
"In October 2017, Sharad Marathe wrote a letter to then Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog Rajiv Kumar outlining a grand vision and concept note to revamp agriculture," says the news report, adding that "Marathe and Kumar were acquaintances, which partly explains why the letter got cherry picked from among the thousands of unlucky cold mails containing ideas and letters that land in government organisations like Niti Aayog every year".
The news report goes on to say that "Marathe claimed he had a radical new practical solution that the government should test and rapidly scale up: stitch together land leased from farmers, make a big marketing company with government help, and create smaller companies for processing and farming. These companies work together to make and sell farming products. Farmers who lease their land can also be part of it and get a share of the profits. This helps them earn more money and makes farming better".
"The inter-ministerial committee was set up within two months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on doubling farmers’ income. One year and four months later the committee began submitting a report in 14 volumes," says the news report.