Terming the “marginal” increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for cotton and paddy by the Union government as a “cruel joke”, the Punjab Congress said on Thursday the stand taken by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on this issue had also exposed the party’s “anti-farmer” face.
The SAD had on Tuesday hailed the BJP-led NDA government’s decision to increase the MSP for food grains, pulses, oilseeds and cotton. Claiming credit for the move, the party had said this hike would assure farmers of a profit of more than 50 per cent even after covering all expenditure on crops and even labour.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar said when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government was at the Centre, the then Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal never forgot to criticise it on the crop price issue, and at that time they had demanded Rs 1800 per quintal MSP for paddy.
“But now when SAD is the partner in National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre and even after completion of four years in the power, the NDA government still has not fulfilled SAD demands, they have nothing to say, which reflects their double character on the issues related with farmers,” he said.
Jakhar said when the Congress-led government was at the Centre during its second tenure in 2009-2014, it had increased MSP of paddy by 69 per cent and for cotton by 80 per cent, while the Modi government in the last four years had increased MSP for paddy by only 41 per cent and for cotton by 43 per cent.
He said the statements made by the Modi government to double the income of the farmers by 2022 were hoax.
In 2013-14, Jakhar said, the price of diesel was Rs 45 per litre, which had gone up to Rs 70 now. “During last year alone, diesel prices were hiked by Rs 15 per litre. In such a case, the marginal increase in the prices of the Kharif crops is not enough to even compensate the effect of diesel price hike,” he said.
The Punjab Congress president said farmers were aware now and they would root out the Modi government from power in the next general elections.