Rejecting the proposal of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CAPC) to freeze the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat during the 2013-14 rabi season, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday slammed the Congress-led UPA government for its "anti-farmer" stand.
The CM also rejected the bonus of Rs. 40 per quintal announced for the crop, calling it too meagre. He demanded that the MSP be fixed at Rs. 1,800 per quintal instead of Rs. 1,285.
Badal said the UPA government's attitude towards the peasantry stood exposed by this decision, which would have far-reaching repercussions on the farming community, which was already under heavy debt.
He said the Congress should have rewarded farmers, especially of Punjab, for their major contribution towards making the country self-reliant in foodgrain production at the expense of their two precious resources - water and soil.
Badal said the UPA leaders owed an explanation to farmers regarding the ever-widening gap between agricultural costs of inputs and squeezed margin of profit due to stagnant MSP to the farmers in their regime since 2004. He also asked the Centre to be honest and fair while deciding on issues relating to the peasantry rather than politicising them.
Reiterating his demand to fix the MSP of wheat at Rs. 1,800 per quintal to offset the recent massive increase in farm inputs, the chief minister said the MSP of Rs. 1,285 per quintal on wheat for the current rabi marketing season was much below the input costs of farmers.
Justifying the rationale behind the demand for Rs. 1,800 MSP, the CM said it was a paradoxical situation that the country had been importing wheat from Australia at a much higher price than this and there was hardly any justification to deprive local producers of the same price.
He cautioned the union government to desist from these anti-peasant policies lest they would jeopardise the country's food security, thereby putting the entire farming community, especially of Punjab, in a quandary.
Badal asked the Centre to implement Dr MS Swaminathan's formula to hike MSP by providing a margin of 50% over the cost of production to farmers to ensure remunerative prices of their produce rather than recklessly importing wheat at much higher prices.