Farmers’ income never doubled but their woes multiplied by 100 times, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said on Wednesday in a dig at the BJP’s pre-poll promise for doubling their income.
Flanked by Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and party leader Alka Lamba, Surjewala made the remark while releasing a booklet on challenges before the farming community.
"What to talk of doubling farmers' income, the BJP government burdened them with additional taxes. It happened for the first time that taxes were imposed on farm inputs and tools," he said, while releasing the booklet titled “Aamdani na hui dugni, dard hua sau guna” (Income never doubled but woes multiplied 100-fold).
Surjewala also took a swipe at the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party, saying while the SAD supported the BJP-led NDA government when farm ordinances were brought in 2020, the AAP government in Delhi later notified the central farm laws. "All these three outfits have an anti-farmer DNA,” he said, hitting out at the BJP, SAD and AAP.
"When they brought the ordinances, they (SAD) were an ally in their government (at the Centre) and the third party (AAP) is the one which notified the farm laws," he said. Hitting out at the BJP government, Surjewala said bringing farm laws was not the only "anti-farmer" decision of the Narendra Modi government. He said taxes on diesel were increased and the cost of fertilizers like urea and DAP too were raised manifold.
With Punjab going to polls on February 20, he called upon the people to bring back the Congress to power and reject the outfits with "anti-farmer" mindsets. While claiming that farmers’ income never doubled but their woes multiplied manyfold, Surjewala said he made the statement on the basis of a National Statistics Office report of September 2021 on the status of agricultural households in rural India.
The September 2021 NSO report has revealed that the average income of the farmer was merely Rs 27 per day and the average debt per farmer was Rs 74,000, he said. Hitting out at the BJP-led government, he said they claimed it would not be feasible to give farmers an MSP plus 50 per cent on the input cost.
"Then they brought a crop insurance scheme, profiteering the companies. Then by imposing taxes after taxes, they increased the cost of cultivation of a farmer by Rs 25,000 per hectare," Surjewala said. "And then to benefit a handful of capitalist friends they brought the three black anti-farming laws (now repealed)," he said.
He said the Modi government itself has disclosed that except paddy and wheat, no crop is bought on more than six per cent on MSP. The BJP and Modi governments are not even buying food grains from farmers in sufficient quantity on support price, he added.
The previous Congress-led UPA government had increased the support price by up to 205 per cent between 2006-07 and 2013-14, he said. During the same interval, the Modi government increased it only by 48 per cent in paddy and by 43 per cent in wheat, said Surjewala.
On the occasion, Punjab Congress chief Sidhu asserted that the Congress party has always stood by the farmers. Speaking about his "Punjab Model" on agriculture, Sidhu said it provides incentives for diversification. "We need a new ‘Farm RRevolution 2.0’ backed by good policies where farmers and small industry will come together," he said.
With inputs from PTI.