New agri laws are in farmers' interests, misgivings should be dispelled: Nitish

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Patna, Feb 8 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday observed that the new agriculture laws are in the 'interests of the farmers', and expressed hope that misgivings over the legislations that have arisen in some states would be addressed squarely by the Centre.

He asserted that the controversy around the new laws will have no impact in Bihar where Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) were done away with more than a decade ago and a viable alternative system put in place.

He also welcomed the assurance given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the floor of the Rajya Sabha earlier in the day, that the system of MSPs (minimum support price) will not be tinkered with while bringing in the agriculture reforms.

'It is good that the government has made it clear that MSPs are there to stay...these laws have been brought for the betterment of farmers. Bihar is not affected by the controversy since we abolished APMCs long back.

'The alternative system of procurement has given the farmers an opportunity to sell their produce wherever they want, and it is working fine,' Kumar told reporters in reply to queries about the ongoing agitations.

He, however, noted that the system of APMCs was very much in place in states like Punjab and Haryana which have been on the boil ever since the three laws were passed by Parliament.

'The good thing is that the Centre has shown the willingness to talk to those who have reservations about the new laws. I am sure it will be able to convince people that it has brought the laws with good intentions,' he added.

The JD(U) leader, who is running his government with the BJP as an alliance partner, however dodged queries about the much-awaited expansion of the state cabinet.

'When we get a list of prospective names (for ministerial berths), it (expansion) will take place,' said Kumar with a cryptic smile.

Speculations are rife that new faces will be inducted into the cabinet ahead of the budget session of the state assembly, which commences on February 19.

Expansion of the cabinet has been hanging fire over the issue of berth allotment to members of Kumar's party and the BJP, which has emerged as the ally with more number of seats in the assembly, upending the power equations within the Bihar NDA.

The ruling coalition also includes smaller parties like former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM and Bollywood set designer-turned-politician Mukesh Sahni's VIP.

Currently 13-strong, the state cabinet has seven members from the BJP, including two deputy CMs, four from the JD(U) other than the chief minister, and one representative each from the HAM and the VIP. PTI NAC RMS RMS RMS RMS