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Rahul Gandhi cracks whip against levy on fruits, vegetables, Congress-ruled states rush to obey

Jan 17 2014, 19:30 IST
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Rahul Gandhi attends a meeting of the Congress Working Committee in New Delhi. (Reuters) Rahul Gandhi attends a meeting of the Congress Working Committee in New Delhi. (Reuters)
SummaryRahul Gandhi may not be the Congress PM candidate, but that is not stopping Congressmen from obeying orders.

While the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Thursday desisted from projecting Rahul Gandhi as their prime ministerial candidate, most party-ruled states have acted on his directions to exempt fruits and vegetables from the archaic state regulations within the time frame fixed by the party vice-president.

During a meeting with Congress CMs on December 27, Rahul Gandhi had asked them to exempt fruits and vegetables,which have contributed much to food inflation, from the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act by January 15.

Most states rushed to meet the deadline. While the Vijay Bahuguna-led Uttarakhand was quick to follow the decision, Mukul Sangma-led Meghalaya government appears to have rushed to meet the deadline set by party vice-president.

On December 30, barely days after Rahul Gandhi’s directive, Uttarakhand government issued a notification exempting fruits and vegetables from Uttarakhand Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2011. Meghalaya issued a notification to exempt fruits and vegetables from Meghalaya State Agricultural Marketing Board on January 14 to meet the January 15 deadline.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Haryana government removed fruits and vegetables from the Haryana Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961 on January 14. Uttarakhand’s marketing board is estimated to suffer a loss of about Rs 8-9 crore per annum because of lifting of levy from fruits and vegetables, and Haryana is estimated to lose about Rs 40 crore.

The Tarun Gogoi-led Assam government issued a notification to exempt fruits and vegetables from Assam Agricultural Produce Marketing Act 1972 on January 13 despite an estimated loss of revenue of Rs 10 crore per annum. Nabam Tuki-led Arunachal Pradesh government exempted fruits, vegetables and eggs from the Arunachal Pradesh Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act 1989 on January 13. Assam’s decision will free 23 fruits and six vegetables (potato, sweet potato, onion, tomato, yam and leafy vegetables) from the trade regulation. Prithiviraj Chavan-led Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra, a major producer of onions and fruits, appears to be running behind schedule.

(With inputs from ENS Chandigarh, Mumbai, Dehradun and Guwahati)

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