Amid the demand for an MSP Law, the Congress on Thursday sought a white paper on farmers’ income in 2004, 2014, and 2022 on the same parameters.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, chairman of the farmers’ cell of the Congress, said, “In February 2016, PM Modi had promised the doubling of farmers’ income in the year 2022. What to speak of doubling their income, if inflation is accounted for, the farmers’ income has actually reduced during these years.”
“It was actually the Congress-led UPA government between 2004 and 2014 which had more than doubled the farmers’ income,” said Khaira.
He pointed out that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is one of the basic parameters of determining the income of farmers. He said the UPA government had doubled the MSP of wheat and paddy, two main crops, within eight years of coming to power.
Giving official figures of MSP, the Kisan Congress chairman said, in 2004 when the UPA led by Dr Manmohan Singh took over, the MSP for wheat was Rs 640 per quintal and it went up to Rs 1,285 per quintal in 2011-2012 and Rs 1,400 per quintal for 2013-14 season. Similarly, the MSP for paddy in 2004 was Rs 560 per quintal, which went upto Rs 1,310 per quintal in 2013-14.
“In strong contrast,” Khaira said, “from the BJP government’s own admission, the MSP for both paddy and wheat did not increase by more than 50 per cent during their regime. After independence, the Modi government was the first Government of India, which imposed GST on pesticides, fertilisers and farm appliances. Who actually doubled the farmers’ income?” he asked while remarking, “doubling the farmers’ income was another epic ‘jumla’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
The farmer leader said, “The farmers also faced a double whammy in terms of increase in input costs like diesel.” Substantiating his charge, he pointed out, the prices of diesel in May 2014 were Rs 55.48 per litre while in December 2022 these were Rs 89.62 per litre which means the diesel prices have increased by about 61 per cent. This was despite the crude oil prices falling substantially in the international market.
“On May 26, 2014, when the Congress was voted out of power and the Modi government came (to power), the price of crude oil was USD 108 per barrel. In December 2022, the average is $77.99 per barrel which is about 28 per cent lower as compared to May 2014 prices,” he said, adding, “but the government is not passing on the benefit to the farmers and common man”.
“The Government of India constituted a Doubling of Farmers’ Income Committee (DFIC) in 2016 which submitted its report in 2018 and that report is still gathering dust in the corridors of power,” he disclosed, while alleging that the government had no intention of doubling the farmers’ income and only wanted to fool people.
Questioning Prime Minister Modi’s silence on the non-fulfilment of his promise of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, the Congress leader asked him what happened to the recommendations of the committee set up for the purpose in 2016.
“What to speak of doubling the farmers’ income, the National Sample Survey of the Government of India revealed during 2018 that the farmers’ income had actually declined and this report was pushed under the carpet,” Khaira revealed, challenging the government to make public the findings of the NSS survey of 2018.