Govt committed to welfare of farmers: Scindia

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) The ruling BJP on Thursday defended the three new farm laws in Rajya Sabha saying the government was committed to farmers' welfare, and questioned the opposition parties for changing their stance on agricultural market reforms.

Speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament, senior BJP member Jyotiraditya Scindia said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and has taken a host of steps in the last six years to increase their income.

Scindia, who was recently elected to Rajya Sabha, highlighted that the NDA government has been successful in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and also turning the crisis into an opportunity.

The BJP leader spoke at length on the three new farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year, and said the Centre has held 11 rounds of discussions with farmer unions to break the deadlock and end the over-two-month-long protest at various borders of the national capital.

Scindia attacked the Congress for changing its stand on the three legislations, saying that the Opposition party has favoured similar laws in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

He said NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who was agriculture minister in the erstwhile UPA government, had written to the chief ministers for reform in farm trade and the need for private sector participation in the agriculture sector.

'Yeh Juban badalne ki aadat badalni hogi. Chat bhi mera pat bhi mera kab tak chalega (Opposition parties will have to change the habit of going back on words. Heads I win, tails you lose. For how long this will go on),' the BJP member said, and wondered for how long one would continue to hamper the interest of the country.

Scindia, who quit the Congress in March 2020 to join the BJP, reeled out data to highlight that the procurement operation at the minimum support price (MSP) has grown significantly under the NDA regime. The MSP is being fixed at least 1.5 times of the production cost.

He said the Centre is providing Rs 6,000 per year to farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme and claims worth Rs 90,000 crore have been cleared under the crop insurance scheme, besides setting up of Rs 1 lakh crore agri-infrastructure fund to create storage capacities and reduce post-harvest losses.

'The NDA government was committed to farmer welfare, it is committed to farmer welfare and will remain committed to farmer welfare,' Scindia said.

He also condemned the disrespect to the national flag and violence at the Red Fort during the farmers' tractor rally.

Talking about the violence at the Red Fort on January 26, he said one cannot forgot the disrespect to the national flag and violence against police personnel as they have etched into memories.

Scindia said the opposition has insulted the President, the country and the democracy by boycotting the President's address to both the Houses on January 29.

He hailed the efforts of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in checking the spread of the coronavirus when there were grim predictions of 80 crore infections and 20 lakh deaths.

In a cricket analogy, Scindia said India played a hook shot and drove bouncer of corona out of the boundary.

He also criticised opposition parties for first questioning the lockdown and then the unlocking process.

In an apparent jibe at the Congress, Scindia said India voluntarily followed lockdown on the call of the prime minister to check spread of the coronavirus, but there was a lockdown during the Emergency in 1975 which was thrust upon the citizens and the entire country was converted in a jail.

After the BJP member spoke, it was turn of senior Congress MP Digvijaya Singh which led to some lighter moments in the House.

Earlier while speaking on the Motion of Thanks, Swapan Dasgupta (nominated) stressed on the need for upgradation in the agriculture sector.

'If we can rise above this basic partisanship and welcome the Centre in the states and states with each other, I think we can be looking forward not merely to a 11 per cent (GDP) growth but a growth which can be 15 per cent which can be envy of the whole world,' he said.

He also pointed that only 9-10 per cent of farmers get MSP for their crop. PTI MJH NKD SMN