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NDA Govt Won't Compromise on Farmers' Interests: FM

BJP today asked its MPs to convey to the public the stand taken by the NDA government to protect the interests of farmers at WTO even as it assured that the interests of the farming community would not be compromised at any cost.

Giving details of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks and the stand adopted by India there, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told party MPs that the government would resist and block all anti-Indian farmer moves by the international body.

Speaking at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Jaitley said that the government would go ahead on the Trade Facilitation principle only after a categorical assurance regarding the public stock-holding and procurement of foodgrains and the public distribution system.

India made it clear at the recent WTO General Council meeting in Geneva that it would not ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) until a permanent solution is found on its food security issues.

"The MPs were told about India's stand at WTO and that the NDA government would never compromise on farmers' interests at any cost," BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said after the meeting.

Regarding the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), the BJP MPs were, meanwhile, told about the decision taken in connection with the issue and that nothing better could be done at this stage as the controversy was created by the previous Congress-led UPA regime.

Naqvi said that Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu told the MPs that the decision on CSAT was the "best available solution" so as to not disrupt the UPSC examination process.

The BJP Parliamentary Party also unanimously congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his successful Nepal visit and for cementing ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Naqvi said that BJP MPs lauded Modi for his initiative during the Nepal visit aimed at bringing the people of the two countries together.

"Jaitley informed the meeting that the Modi government is voicing the concerns of Indian farmers at various international fora. The government is determined to resist and block all the anti-India farmer moves by WTO and other agencies," he said.

Jaitley told the BJP MPs that the US and European nations provide billions in subsidies every year to their farmers but are insisting that India remove its minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural products.

"We have to support our farmers. Otherwise, they would face difficulties," Naqvi reported Jaitley as having told the meeting.

Making an elaborate presentation on the issue, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that India is committed to its pro-farmer stand despite heavy pressure from the developed nations.

She informed the MPs that the WTO resolution at the Bali Summit of 2013 was not a perfect agreement as the core principles were not incorporated into it.

She also said that several steps have been initiated and sufficient allocations made in the budget by the Finance Minister to facilitate trade. She added that several countries have appreciated the stance taken by India.

Naidu, meanwhile, said the government is providing more time for a wider debate on various issues concerning society.

On the Insurance Bill, he said that Congress was the first to introduce it and claimed that the opposition party was now deliberately delaying it as it was apprehensive that the credit would go to the Modi government.

He also informed that the BJP National Council meeting would be held on August 9 at Nehru Stadium, the first for the party following its massive Lok Sabha election win.

He said that efforts are on to form all parliamentary committees unanimously and urged members to be present in the House and take part in debates and voting whenever needed.

The party meeting was attended by all party MPs, including LK Advani and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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