While Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amrinder Singh has been standing in support of the farmers stating that the three new farm laws are against their benefits, his own government had advocated opening the farm markets beyond APMCs, and promoting contract farming just three months ago.
The Covid response report of the Punjab Government for the month of September 2020, had stated that the Congress government in Punjab had batted for opening up APMCs, so that the farmers can sell produce to a wider market.
The Punjab Govt’s Covid response report has been doing the rounds on Twitter.
This is the Covid response report of Punjab Govt. On page 334 the report says “opening up of agricultural marketing beyond APMCs to increase the scope of selling farmer produce.”— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) December 25, 2020
In September, Punjab Chief Secy said these reforms must be implemented. #FarmBills2020 pic.twitter.com/XYfN689Qth
Page 334 of the report says: “Opening up of agricultural marketing beyond APMCs to increase the scope of selling farmer produce.” On the same page, the report had proposed “Inviting big seed companies by allowing them to have contract farming with farmers and farmer producer organizations (FPOs), and also allowing them to have long lease of land.”
Further, the report had talked about the participation of private sector in farm R&D and innovations through innovative forms of PPP linking government research bodies with business.
The report suggested several other things that the farmers are opposing. It had suggested to liberalise laws relating to conversion of agricultural lands for non-agricultural uses. The report had said that in order to unlock the capital value of land, large areas can be earmarked where anyone is permitted to convert agriculture lands for non-agriculture use.
This Punjab Govt’s report has once again exposed the Congress-led state government’s hypocrisy and deceptions. Interestingly, the reforms the ruling Congress party in Punjab has mentioned in its September report, is exactly what the BJP government’s new farm law is offering.
On one side, the Punjab Govt speaks in favour of opening up APMC and letting farmers sell outside of it saying that it would help them, and on the other side, it has been instigating the ignorant farmers and fanning protests against Modi Govt’s new farm laws which offer the same reform.
If we could remind Capt Amarinder Singh that one thing the 2020 Farm Bills of the Modi government does is to give farmers the option to trade freely outside of APMCs, anywhere within India. The exact same thing which his Govt’s proposes in its September’s covid response report.
And as Capt Amarinder Singh continues to project himself as the Messiah of the protesting farmers, there is more. In 2016, the CM of Punjab had pleaded with the farmers of his state, presumably with folded hands, to do themselves a favour. Explaining how the farmers could have tripled their incomes if only they had a chance to deal with Reliance, which he alleged Akalis ruined. Here too he had batted for opening up APMCs so that farmers could sell produce to a wider market, in this case, Reliance Group of Companies.
And we already know that the Congress party had promised these same farm reforms in their 2019 election manifesto.
So all in all, the extensive documentary trail the Congress party has left behind is enough to expose their farce over the agricultural reforms brought in by the Modi government.