Questioning the government's intention of helping farmers, the Congress Tuesday said if they don't get the promised MSP for their produce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aim of doubling their income by 2022 will remain a "pipe dream".
Congress leader Sunil Jakhar claimed a majority of farm produce is purchased in the open market at rates much lower than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) declared by the government.
He urged the prime minister to make MSP a "legally binding right" of farmers to ensure that they get the right and remunerative prices for their produce.
"The intention of the government is doubtful. If it wants to help the farmer, give him the due price for his farm produce," he said.
"If the MSP is declared and the farmer does not get it for his crops, then the prime minister's promise of doubling farmers' income will remain a pipe dream," he told reporters at a virtual press conference.
The government on Monday raised the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy by a marginal Rs 53 per quintal to Rs 1,868 per quintal for the 2020-21 crop year, while the rates for oilseeds, pulses and cereals were hiked substantially.
Among commercial crops, the MSP of cotton was increased by Rs 260 per quintal to Rs 5,515 for the medium staple variety and by Rs 275 per quintal to Rs 5,825 for the long staple variety for the current crop year (July-June).
Jakhar also said on Tuesday the current exodus of migrant workers to their home states will have an adverse impact on the country's economy which, he claimed, is already in a bad shape.
The Punjab Congress chief also accused the government of "betraying" farmers as it is yet to come out with the CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices) report on fixing MSPs of various crops.
He said that except for wheat and paddy, which are picked up by government agencies at MSP rates to some extent, a majority of other crops is sold at prices much below MSP as agencies do not buy them at government rates. The farmers lose out in the bargain, he said.
"The prime minister wants to revive the economy, but what has the farmer got in the Rs 20 lakh crore package announced by him?" he said.
Instead of any cash benefits, the prime minister has only given advice to take more credit, he claimed. "Farmers are already reeling under debt and are committing suicides due to heavy debts."
He urged the prime minister to grant fiscal incentives to farmers and waive their loans. The Congress leader said cash should be given to farmers to help them come out of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
He called for immediate grant of Rs 10,000 to each poor family and Rs 7,500 to them for next six months to help them tide over the crisis and help revive demand.
Jakhar claimed that input cost of farmers have risen further during this pandemic as labour is difficult to find after migrant workers left for their homes.