The BJP smells a scam in the government’s decision to import wheat at a sharply higher rate and has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do “justice” to farmers.
Rejecting the Centre’s argument that the decision is aimed at maintaining a sufficient buffer stock to meet any exigencies, the BJP feels farmers have been betrayed. “The government paid only Rs 850 per quintal as procurement price for our farmers and then goes on to buy imported wheat at Rs 1,600 per quintal,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.
Javadekar recalled the government had given many reasons to cancel the first tender at $263 a tonne. “It had then said the prices were high and expected new arrivals to soften them by September-end in the international markets. So, how can the government now justify cancelling the first tender at $263, place an order at the rate of $325 within days and now $390 per tonne?”
The current import price of about Rs 16,000 per tonne is about 88 per cent more than the minimum support price of Rs 8,500 a tonne at which the government had procured about 11.1 million tonnes of wheat directly from farmers during the rabi marketing season. “This is an insult to our farmers who were demanding that they be paid Rs 1,600 per quintal. Besides, production is up this year from last year by 50 lakh tonnes, thus raising no distress signals.”
Javadekar said the BJP wanted Singh to intervene to stop the costly imports as “it is a fraud on the nation”.