The Punjab unit of the Congress on Sunday hailed the union agricultural ministry's decision to provide monetary relief directly to farmers hit by the erratic monsoon in the state.
"Direct payment to the farmers will serve the purpose," Punjab Congress general secretary Arvind Khanna said here.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had on Friday announced at a press conference that farmers in Punjab would get the relief payment directly through their kisan credit cards and bank accounts for spending on extra input costs, especially on diesel for irrigation, during the poor monsoon in the region.
Khanna stated that this decision would "throw the middlemen out". He pointed out that while the Akalis were opposed to direct payment, Congress MPs had raised this demand in favour of farmers.
Taking a dig at the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he remarked that it was surprising that a party claiming itself to be "pro farmer" could oppose something that was purely in farmers' interest.
The senior Congress leader stated that the Akalis opposed this move for direct payment as it would deny them "the chance to manipulate and make commissions".
He further accused the ruling SAD of diverting relief money meant for farmers in 2009. "Even the relief that farmers were provided was peanuts as the Akali government provided only Rs 150 crore to farmers, while the actual amount that came as relief from the Centre was Rs 800 crore," he said.