A day after getting the parliamentary nod on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Punjab farmers supported FDI and that it was good for farmers as well as consumers.
Interestingly, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, whose party voted against the move on Friday, was all praise for his leadership on Saturday, calling him one of the best economists in the world.
Singh was addressing the golden jubilee convocation of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana on Saturday.
Speaking after the PM, Badal carefully avoided any mention of FDI.
Singh said FDI would facilitate the introduction of latest technology and equipment in the agriculture sector.
The golden jubilee is an occasion to celebrate the past, but it should also become an occasion to look ahead into the future and help the state scale new heights, the PM said.
Referring to the agrarian crisis in Punjab, Singh asked the state government to address the problem water scarcity in the state. He said the problem was severe in Punjab where 80% of the development blocks were over-exploited. He cautioned against over-exploitation of groundwater to support rice cultivation.
Badal requested Singh to sanction a research centre for soybean to boost farm diversification. Congratulating the PM on the honorary doctorate conferred by the university on the occasion, Badal said he deserved it more than anyone.
He, however, lamented that the Centre paid no heed to the state’s repeated requests for a drought package.
Singh also paid tribute to former Punjab chief minister Partap Singh Kairon, calling him the “son of the soil” who laid the foundation for agricultural and industrial development in the state.