Days after backing farm bills, JD(U) voices demand to legalise MSP as floor price

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Updated: Sep 24, 2020 11:22 AM

KC Tyagi said that there was a need to enact a law so that farmers are not forced to sell their produce at rates less than the MSP.

JD(U) leader KC Tyagi. (file)

Days after supporting the passage of farm bills in the Parliament, BJP ally Janata Dal (United) has taken a calibrated approach on the matter. The party has welcomed the passage of the bills, but said that it supports the farmers’ demand for a law that makes payment below the MSP a punishable offence.

Party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP KC Tyagi said that there was a need to enact a law so that farmers are not forced to sell their produce at rates less than the MSP.

“We welcome the passage of both the Bills in Parliament. Our party supported these Bills,” he told The Indian Express.

“But we also support the demand by farmers’ organisations to make a law that says no one can buy from farmers at rates less than the MSP. Any violation should be made a punishable offence,” he added.

When asked whether the JD(U) will make this demand formally, Tyagi replied, “The Prime Minister has assured that the MSP would continue.”

To a question about no mention of MSP in the new law, Tyagi said that the Prime Minister has assured that its violation can amount to contempt.

The opposition parties and several farmers’ organisations across the country are protesting against the new laws. The bills were cleared by the Parliament on Sunday. They are arguing that the government is trying to hand over the farming sector to corporates and that farmers’ will not get a suitable price for their produce.

The bills at the centre of the protests are — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020

According to the government, the bills give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis). This is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels. Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under the act. Besides, farmers can enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. It seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.

Tyagi said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made clear that purchase under PDS will continue as usual. “Banka district in Bihar would start the purchase of paddy on MSP,” he said.

The leader also stressed that the interests of farmers have been supreme for JD(U) and recounted that the Nitish Kumar government had in 2006 repealed the APMC Act because “too much intervention of middlemen” was hurting farmers’ interests.

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