The Punjab Congress on Saturday urged All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi to address the misgivings of the state's farmers that the implementation of the national food security ordinance (NFSO) would have an adverse impact on the minimum support price (MSP).
State unit president Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar and two All-India Congress Committee secretaries Ashwani Sekhri and Kuljit Singh Nagra raised the issue during the meeting of state congress presidents and CLP leaders summoned by Gandhi for the smooth implementation of the ordinance in their respective states.
The two-and-a-half-hour meeting was also attended by union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh and union minister of state for consumer affairs and food and public distribution KV Thomas.
Jakhar said that rumours were being spread among farmers that the implementation of the ordinance would have a direct bearing on the MSP. "The farmers are being told that the financial burden of the implementation of the ordinance will have the Centre decrease the MSP on crops, thus creating a fear psychosis. The Centre should immediately dismiss such rumours so that farmers don't get demoralized by the false propaganda," he said.
Both Ramesh and Thomas clarified to the state congress presidents and the CLP leaders that by no means would the financial burden of the NFSO be transferred on to the MSP. "We will not let the farmer suffer. In fact, during the Congress regime, the MSP has been on a constant increase," Ramesh said.
Jakhar also apprised Gandhi of flaws in the implementation of the public distribution system (PDS) at the state level. He claimed that the state governments were squandering the grant being given by the Centre for the benefit of weaker sections.
He said he was carrying affidavits of nearly 12,000 families in Punjab who are in possession of ration cards but are deprived of the kerosene and foodgrains that they are entitled to under the PDS.
Jakhar claimed that even families above the poverty line (APL), entitled to foodgrains at the rate of Rs. 6 per kg and 10 litres of kerosene every month, were not getting their due in Punjab.
Gandhi assured the Congress office-bearers that the union government would ensure that actual beneficiaries got their due under the NFSO, PDS and other welfare schemes being run in the state with financial aid from the Centre.