The plight of onion farmers and rising prices of pulses echoed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday with BJP MPs making veiled criticism of the Centre for the second consecutive day.
Sumedhananda Saraswati (Sikar) and Hukum Singh (Kairana) raised the matter in Lok Sabha, seeking intervention to buy onion from the farmers.
“When there was a crisis seven-eight months back, onions were sold at Rs 50 per kg. Today, it’s being sold at Rs 3 every kg. The government should immediately buy them from the farmers, who do not have storage facility,” Saraswati said.
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said the government had set up a price stabilisation fund for potato, onion and pulses but it has been shifted from his ministry to the food ministry. He replied in detail about the e-NAM, the electronic trading platform for agriculture market.
“You have given an elaborate reply. But the problem remains as it is. Dal prices are not going down and that of onion are not going up,” Kairana MP Hukum Singh said during the question hour.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to intervene by saying the question relates to e-trading, but the MP was unfazed. “What will we do of e-trading? Today, farmers are selling onion for Rs 2 per kg. There should be solution to the problem and it will be solved only when the government enters the market, buy onion and save farmers.” Singh evaded the question, saying it did not fall under his ministry.
Earlier, replying to a separate question, home minister Rajnath Singh found himself in a difficult spot when party MP RK Singh disputed one of his claims.
Following a remark of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge that the Centre has discontinued a housing scheme under which 75% funds were provided by the Centre while states used to provide 25%, the home minister said police modernisation funds are not given to states only for construction of houses for policemen.
“I want to tell the House that it is not correct to say many state governments run housing schemes through the funds given by the Centre. Police modernisation fund is not given only for housing. It is possible that some state governments use the funds for housing. But police modernisation funds are not given for housing,” he said. RK Singh, however, said there was a housing component under the police modernisation funds given to states, which was perhaps stopped now.