| New Delhi
Blaming the BJP-led central government for pushing the agriculture sector into "ICU", the Congress on Monday demanded that the government fulfil its primary promise of "providing minimum support price (MSP), along with 50 per cent of the cost of production" to the farmers.
The party also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the firing on farmers and the massive farmers' strike taking place in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states.
The Congress said farmers had been "backstabbed by the callous and insensitive attitude of the BJP government".
The party also asked the government why should the issue of farm loan waiver be left to the state governments. "Why shouldn't the central government announce the loan waiver?" said senior Congress spokesperson C P Joshi.
He said the same government, which had promised the farmers the MSP and 50 per cent of cost of production on their crops, was now shying away from it.
"During 2014 elections, the BJP had promised the farmers MSP and 50 per cent of the cost of production. Now, the same government has given an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that they can't do this," added Joshi.
Joshi said demonetisation had hurt the agrarian society like no other policy.
"It has completely destroyed farm incomes and resulted in deep agricultural distress. Despite good monsoons and good harvest, the farmer continues to be in distress," he said.
"Agricultural growth has come down to just 1.3 per cent this year, compared with an average growth of 4.2 per cent in the UPA years," said Joshi.
The party spokesperson, asking a few questions to the government, said: "Why has the BJP government reduced import duty to zero per cent? Is it to benefit the middlemen?"
"On one hand, the government does not procure wheat from India's farmers. On the other hand, it imports wheat by reducing import duty from 25 per cent to zero per cent. Nexus with food grain mafia is evident," he added.
Joshi said that in 2015-16, the BJP government had permitted import of pulses at Rs 44 per kg. "Pulses sold at Rs 230 per kg. In 2016-17, despite bumper production of 221 lakh tonnes, the BJP has again permitted import of 54 lakh tonnes pulses at Rs 44 per kg."
He asked why the agricultural export was plunging. "During the Congress government, agri-exports surged from US $753.30 million in 2003-04 to US $3,295 million."
"Under the BJP, exports have miserably plunged to US $1,957 million. That is a fall by US $1,338 million," Joshi added.
Copyright © 2016 The Statesman Limited. All Rights Reserved.