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'Cruel joke': Amarinder Singh mocks 'paltry hike' in MSP


Chandigarh, Sep 21: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday rejected the Centre's "paltry" hike in MSP of wheat and five other Rabi crops as a "cruel joke" on farmers.

Amarinder Singh

He said the "paltry" hike has come amid their growing apprehensions about the abolition of the minimum support price regime following the passage of the new agriculture Bills in Parliament.

"This is callous. They have made a mockery of the farmers' protests over the farm bills, which by all accounts will eventually pave the way for ending the MSP system and abolish the Food Corporation of India," said the CM in a statement here.

The Centre on Monday hiked the MSP for buying six Rabi crops, including wheat, by up to six per cent. The MSP of wheat has been hiked by Rs 50 to Rs 1,975 per quintal. Besides, MSPs of lentil (masoor), gram, barley, safflower and mustard/rapeseed have been increased.

Singh said if the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre thought it would appease the agitating farms with this "trifling" hike, they clearly did not understand the situation.

"You can't just throw crumbs at someone who may be on the verge of losing his livelihood as a result of your shameful actions," he told the Union government.

The farmers have been asking for a written guarantee that MSP will not be tampered with, but instead, the Centre has made a a "measly" offering to them, said the CM.

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He said this once again showed how "little" the BJP and its allies, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), knew about the farmers and their problems.

At a time when the farmers were not even sure that the MSP regime will stay, and for how long, making these "meagre" hikes in the support price of a few crops amounted to playing with their emotions, said the CM.

The verbal assurances and promises made by the government which has "failed" to implement even its written promises and commitments are totally "meaningless", he said, urging the central government to take cognisance of farmers' concerns even now and address them with meaningful steps instead of such antics.

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    Singh said the farmers are at present worried about their future, and that of their families, and want categorical and clear commitments only, in black and white, that their produce will continue to be procured in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) markets at a minimum assured price.

    They want to be secure about their livelihood, which in any case has been progressively "declining" due to the Centre's "anti-farmer" policies over the past six years, he added.

    He also regretted that the centre had once again failed to announce a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal for paddy straw management to incentivise farmers not to burn it.

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