Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa on Sunday said the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre is out to ruin farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, the states which have been feeding the entire nation.
“The Centre has made the three states scapegoats to bail out the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which is in neck-deep debt,” said Bajwa, adding that gradually the central agency would withdraw itself completely from grain procurement.
Talking to mediapersons at the local grain market where he arrived to get first-hand information on wheat procurement, Bajwa said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was shedding crocodile tears over the pathetic state of farmers in Punjab.
“If he is really concerned about the crop loss he should compensate the farmers and give `200 per quintal bonus to those whose wheat crop has been damaged due to bad weather. The Badals should give their one-year income from illegal sale of sand and gravel to farmers,” he took a jibe at the Badal-led government.
Alleging that wheat procurement was going slow on the Centre's directions, Bajwa said it was a ploy to discourage farmers from opting for agriculture.
“The government will pull back from purchase in a phased manner, leaving the farmers at the mercy of private buyers. The farmers are already reeling under debt and committing suicides. The government is making things harder for them,” he added.
He strongly opposed the move of the Modi government to end freight subsidy on potash and phosphorous fertilizers, saying it
would be detrimental to the farmers’ interests.
“It will increase the prices of fertilizers, thereby adding to the cost of production,” he said. Referring to the letter written by Punjab chief minister to the Union fertiliser minister on the issue, Bajwa said that Badal had admitted that the additional cost paid by suppliers would be passed on to the farmers. He urged the government to withdraw the proposal immediately.
Bajwa said the Congress would continue its struggle for the farmers. “I have requested party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to address a farmers’ rally in Punjab anytime in May,” he claimed. Bajwa was accompanied by district Congress president Sunder Sham Arora and PPCC legal cell chairman Inderpal Singh Dhanna.