Farmers protest: NCP clarifies Sharad Pawar’s old letters on APMC reforms for private sector entry
The NCP released a statement after reports pointed out that Pawar had reportedly suggested amendments to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, which the party is against now
Mumbai/Nagpur: The Nationalist Congress Party on Monday said when NCP chief Sharad Pawar was the agriculture minister during the UPA regime, he persuaded many 'reluctant' states to implement the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government's model APMC Act.
Senior NCP leader and former Union minister Praful Patel said his party had not supported the new farm laws in Parliament, adding they were introduced without discussions with anyone.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase pointed this out after government sources shared content of letters Pawar wrote to many chief ministers when he was the Union minister.
NCP issues clarification on controversy over Sharad Pawar's letters (attached in tweet) of 2010 & 2011 to Sheila Dixit & SS Chouhan. "Model APMC Act 2003 was introduced by Vajpayee govt. However, many state govts were reluctant to implement it at that point of time," party says. pic.twitter.com/NbLzXBOKLo
— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2020
"The model Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act 2003 was introduced by the Vajpayee-led NDA government. However many state governments were reluctant to implement it at that point of time," Tapase said.
"After taking over as Union agriculture minister, Pawar tried to form a broader consensus amongst state agriculture marketing boards by inviting suggestions for the implementation of the Act," Tapase said in a statement here.
"The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained (by Pawar) to various state governments and many state governments came forward to implement it. Farmers across the country are gaining from the implementation of the Act which was fine tuned by Pawar to protect farmers' interests," Tapase said.
The new farm laws introduced by the Modi-led government have raised doubts and created insecurity in the minds of farmers regarding issues like minimum support price, Tapase said.
"The BJP regime has also failed to address many other issues in the new farm laws, which has led to the large scale protests and agitation by farmers across the country. The Modi regime could not form a broader consensus and has failed to satisfy legitimate apprehensions of the farmers and entire Opposition," Tapase said.
Patel told reporters in Nagpur that the three farm laws introduced by the Modi government were not discussed with anyone and they do not have any benefit for the farmer.
"There is no clarity on the future of the APMC set-up or the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism, nor on what farmers can do to get justice in case they face a loss and contracts are not honoured by traders and private companies", he said.
To a query on NCP being absent in Parliament when the farm bills were passed, Patel said, even at that time, "we had said these bills are being brought in a hurried manner".
With Pawar backing farmers' protest against the contentious agriculture reforms, government sources on Sunday pointed out that as the agriculture minister in the UPA dispensation he had asked chief ministers to amend the APMC Act in their states to allow the private sector to play an important role in the field.
Pawar is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on 9 December over the ongoing farmers' protest against the new agrarian laws after the NCP joined opposition parties in supporting the 'Bharat Bandh' called on 8 December by farmer unions, which have demanded the repeal of the Centre's new agri-marketing laws.
The government sources said Pawar in a 2010 letter to the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said that the agriculture sector needs well-functioning markets to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in a rural area of the country.
"This requires huge investments in marketing infrastructure including cold-chain. And for this, private sector participation is essential, for which an appropriate regulatory and policy environment needs to be in place," Pawar's letter had said, calling for amending the state APMC Act.
In a letter on similar lines to the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Pawar had underlined the need for investments in post-harvest and marketing infrastructure from the farm gate to the consumer and said: "private sector needs to play an important role in this regard".
Pawar was the agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister in the Manmohan Singh-led government.
Pawar on Sunday asked the Centre to take serious cognisance of the ongoing farmers' protest and said if the deadlock continues, the agitation will not be limited to Delhi and people from across the country will stand by the protesting farmers.
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