Questions should be asked of current PM, not former: Congress on MSP legal guarantee demand

07:20 PM Feb 16, 2024 | PTI |

Sasaram (Bihar): The Congress on Friday said questions should be asked of the BJP-led government as to why it did not provide legal guarantee of MSP in its 10 year tenure, while claiming that the UPA dispensation under Manmohan Singh had acted on the Swaminathan Commission report and created a consensus on the issue.


Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that in 2011, as the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi had made recommendations as the head of a panel formed to analyse the Swaminathan committee report and had backed the recommendation of legal guarantee of MSP.

“(Then) PM Manmohan Singh acted on it (Swaminathan committee report). It was debated in Parliament and talks were held with states twice. Agriculture is under states ambit but still we had taken a decision that we will move in that direction. We had big legislations before us such as on food security and land acquisition. We had decided that we will come back and adopt the Swaminanthan formula,” Ramesh said at a press conference in Bihar’s Kaimur during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

He said Prime Minister Modi came to power in 2014 and the Congress hoped he would give legal guarantee to MSP but did not.

Sources in the BJP have alleged that the Congress did not accept the recommendations by the Swaminathan Commission when it was in power at the Centre.


They cited that then Minister of State for Agriculture K V Thomas, in his written reply to a question asked by BJP member Prakash Javadekar in Rajya Sabha on April 16 2010, had stated that the government did not accept the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation that Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production.

Asked why the UPA government had not implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, Ramesh said, “Understand the chronology. The Swaminathan Commission submitted its report in 2006 and the then PM (Singh) had sent it to the national development council of whom all CMs are members, and asked it to do an analysis and send its recommendations to the government.”

“A committee of chief ministers was formed in 2007 and its president was then Gujarat CM Modi. In February 2011, it submitted its report to Manmohan Singh. In that Modi ji has himself said that time has come that legal guarantee of MSP should be given,” Ramesh claimed.

“We (UPA government) again spoke with all states. In Parliament, (M S)Swaminathan was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, he spoke on it, I was also there as a minister,” the Congress leader said.

It took about a year-and-a-half and when the time came to implement it, the government had the legislation on food security and land acquisition, which were passed in 2013, and then elections were declared later.

“The Manmohan Singh government thought at that time that it is a big step we have taken with a consensus formed on it and when our government returns we will implement it. This decision was taken on September 2013. Our government did not return to power and Modi ji’s government was formed….From 2014-2024 no work was done on it. Questions that should be asked of the (current) PM Narendra Modi are being asked of the former PM (Singh),” Ramesh said.

Ramesh’s remarks come at a time when farmers, mainly from Punjab, have been protesting against the government. On Tuesday, farmers had clashed with the Haryana Police at two border points between the states, facing tear gas and water cannons as they tried to break the barricades blocking their march to the national capital.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.


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