Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Rahul pledges guarantee on MSP but Cong govt rejected Swaminathan Committee report in 2010

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | February 14, 2024 03:08 PM

NEW DELHI: In a redux of the farmers protest in 2020-21, a sizeable number of farmers marched from their villages in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, as part of ‘Chalo Delhi’ agitation to seek government’s nod and preferably a legislation to implement their demands. Minimum Support Price (MSP) is their chief demand, this time.

Farmers Protest 2.0 has earned the support of Congress and other Opposition parties. Leading from the front, Rahul Gandhi has promised guarantee on MSP for crops, apparently taking a leaf from PM Modi’s popular guarantee slogans.

However, it has come to light that Congress government in 2010, itself turned down the recommendations of Swaminathan Committee report which batted for a much higher compensation for farmers, in lieu of their farm produce.

Notably, Swaminathan Committee’s National Commission report, headed by renowned scientist MS Swaminathan, had submitted its recommendation on Minimum Support Price (MSP) before the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2010.

A questionnaire from Parliament, dated 16 April, 2010, shows that KV Thomas, the then minister in UPA government cited ‘distortion of market’ and ‘counter-productive’ aspect as the reason for turning down the recommendations.

KV Thomas, the MoS for Agriculture in 2010 during UPA rule, said in response to BJP MP Prakash Javadekar in Rajya Sabha that the recommendation was not accepted by the government because "MSP is recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) based on objective criteria and considering a variety of relevant factors. Hence, prescribing an increase of at least 50% on cost may distort the market. A mechanical linkage between MSP and the cost of production may be counter-productive in some cases."

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that Congress, if voted to power, will give a legal guarantee on MSP to every farmer, based on the recommendations of Swaminathan report.

“This MSP guarantee will be a game-changer for more than 15 crore farmers and will bring a lasting change to their lives. This is our first guarantee while treading on Nyay Yatra,” Rahul announced on Tuesday.

The contrasting stand of Congress party on support to Farmers Protest 2.0 and its outright dismissal of a ‘progressive and fore-sighted’ law in 2010 has given the BJP ammunition to tear into the grand old party and accuse it of playing to the gallery, ahead of the election season.

Some call it the double-standards of Congress party and a 'repeated ploy' to rise to throne rather than devising a concrete plan for their welfare.

In the current 2024 agitation, farmers have raised a couple of demands which include MSP for all crops, a debt waiver, pension scheme for farmers above 60 years and implication of those individuals, close to a political party, involved in Lakhimpur Kheri killings.


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