Rajya Sabha Member and Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday launched an attack on the Modi-led BJP government over the farm bills and said Narendra Modi and BJP spokespersons have ‘deliberately and maliciously’ distorted the Congress Manifesto over the issue.

“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; and to establish farmers’ markets with adequate infrastructure and support in large villages and small towns to enable the farmer to bring his/her produce and freely market the same,” Chidambaram said.

Ahead of the general elections in 2019, Congress had suggested changes to farm laws that would see the AMPC Act abolished.

This is something one of the bills proposed by the BJP government does and something pointed out by the BJP as it defends those bills.

He said the Congress would have ensured multiple accessible markets for farmers looking to sell their produce before scrapping the APMC Act.

“The Prime Minister and BJP spokespersons have deliberately and maliciously distorted the Congress manifesto. Farmers need multiple accessible markets and choices. The Congress’ proposals would have given them that,” Chidambaram said.

Congress leader pointed out that his party’s manifesto also promised to enable farmers’ companies to access technology and also set up adequate infrastructure in large villages and small towns to help them trade freely.

“Once that was accomplished the Congress manifesto promise of repealing APMC Act and making trade in agricultural produce free would have been a natural sequel,” he said.

BJP government, however, had surrendered to corporates and traders pointing to the absence of a clause linking the lowest price farmers would get for their produce from private buyers to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) set by the government, he said.

“Why is such a clause absent? The bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer without creating thousands of alternatives,” he said.

“The bills assume perversely that the farmer and the private purchaser have equal bargaining power. They do not. The small farmer will be at the mercy of the private purchaser,” he added.

However, yesterday, reacting on the ongoing rift among the political parties due to the agriculture bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the Bill is for the welfare of the farmers and those who ruled this country for decades are attempting to mislead them.

“Farmers have been given new independence in agriculture. They’ll now have more options and opportunities to sell their produce. I congratulate them on the passage of Bills. It was necessary to bring these to protect them from middlemen. These are farmers’ shields,” PM Modi said.

“But the people who ruled this country for decades are attempting to mislead the farmers on this issue. They are lying to the farmers,” he added.