Amid facing criticism on giving free power to farmers from several quarters, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the farming sector should be given subsidies "in a big way" for producing sufficient foodgrain to meet country's requirement.
Badal also sought cooperation of all the MPs irrespective of their affiliations with political parties to put pressure on the Centre for bringing change in formula fixed for arriving at minimum support price (MSP) of food grain in order to ensure remunerative prices to farmers.
"The condition of farmer is pitiable. Every farmer who is doing only farming is under heavy debt. This is not because of any weakness in him but is also due to polices of the government," Badal said while addressing the inaugural session of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) workshop here in Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday.
Noting that farmers are at the receiving end due to non- remunerative and diminishing returns, Badal said that farmers should be given more subsidies to bail them out of agrarian crisis.
"If you want sufficient food grain for the country then you have to subsidise farmers in a big way," he said while justifying the state government's decision of giving free power to farm sector.
"Framing is a profession and if you want to keep it alive then you have to subsidise it highly," he said, adding, "media and some other people are criticizing us for giving free power."
Referring to his conversation with Bangladesh Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary who also present on this occasion, Badal said the country like Bangladesh is also giving subsidy on power to its farmers.
"What we are doing (giving free power) in Punjab they are doing in Bangladesh. They do not charge anything for tubwell," said Badal.
SAD-BJP led state government has been facing sharp criticism from several quarters for doling out free power to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore.
Describing the current formula fixed for determining food grain MSP as "very defective", Punjab CM said that all Member of Parliaments (MP) should pressurize the Centre for bringing change in the formula.
"This formula can be changed only by pressure of all MPs," he said, adding that farmers should get assured income for sowing crop.
Badal also mooted a proposal to form a working group of members of Commonwealth nations with a permanent headquarters in the state to create a mechanism for the exchange of ideas, experiences and future strategies.