Hindustan Times, New Delhi
“The Congress party in their 2019 manifesto had promised to repeal the APMC Act and make trade of agricultural produce including export free from all restrictions,” Prasad said.(ANI Photo)
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday accused political rivals, who have found a rallying point in the ongoing farmers’ agitation, of displaying “shameful double standards”, saying that parties such as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had once supported what are now key provisions of the new laws that have triggered the protests.
Addressing media persons on Monday, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the parties were opposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a bid to “retain their political relevance”.
“The Congress party in their 2019 manifesto had promised to repeal the APMC Act and make trade of agricultural produce including export free from all restrictions,” Prasad said.
Hitting out at NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Prasad said, “He had written to the then Delhi chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that agricultural sector needs improvement and that the market requires huge investment in infrastructure including cold chain and private sector participation is essential…”
He also said as the Union agriculture minister in the United Progressive Alliance government, Pawar had strongly advocating for greater participation of the private sector in the farm sector and highlighting the need for making suitable regulatory and policy changes for that.
“Now they are opposing what they had been working to do when in power. This exposes their shameful double standards. This is opposition for the sake of opposition,” he added.
The NCP said Pawar, as the agriculture minister, persuaded many “reluctant” states to implement the BJP-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s model APMC Act.
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik said Pawar took decisions with consensus and never imposed them on states. “After the NCP declared support (to farmers stir), the people of BJP have circulated some letters, claiming Pawar saheb himself was encouraging privatisation.
The Congress said farmers were justified in opposing the alleged “corporatisation” of agriculture. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said, “Please do not follow America. Government should not become a lobbyist for the corporate.”