Need agri reforms but current farm laws don’t reflect reform, must be scrapped: Hooda

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, Dec 8

Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Tuesday said there was a need for agricultural reforms but “there is no reflection of reforms in the new laws” and they needed to be scrapped.

He said the farm laws were passed without any consultations with the farmers, and therefore the Centre must call a Parliament session, repeal these laws and start the reform process afresh.

“We are not against reforms but the current laws must be repealed and fresh reform process initiated after consultations with stakeholders,” said the former Haryana CM.

On the issue of 2019 Congress manifesto promising to abolish the APMC Act, a matter flagged by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday, Hooda said the BJP was “misrepresenting facts”.

“We promised to take the mandis near the farmers and in Haryana we did that. In my own village we have set up purchase centres at every 10 km for a population of 10,000,” he said.

The senior Congress leader questioned the government on why it didn’t agree to the opposition demand for bringing a fourth law notifying anyone who buys below MSP would be punished.

Hooda also said the Haryana Government had lost the trust of the people and the Assembly due to mishandling of the farmers agitation and should face a ‘vote of no confidence’.

Insisting that the Bharat Bandh on Tuesday was successful, Hooda urged the Haryana Governor to call an emergency session of the state Assembly and allow a floor test.

“Seven of the 10 MLAs of BJP ally JJP have dissociated from the government on the farmers issue and three Independents have also done so. The government is in minority and we will move a no confidence vote the day a session is called,” he said.

The Congress veteran cited examples from his time as CM in Haryana and said the contract farming agreement was strict and such that the farmer interests were protected unlike in current laws.

“Our August 9, 2007 notification in Haryana says the contract farming agreement between sponsor and producer shall be registered with district marketing enforcement offices in the presence of both parties and the agreed rate and contract rate shall not be less than MSP of preceding year. It says where there is no MSP, amount of security will be 15 per cent of prevailing market rate for that crop.”

Hooda said there was no such safety in the Central farm laws.

He also mentioned that the report of the working group on agriculture, which he chaired during the UPA times, to say one of the panel recommendations was that banks can’t charge more than 4 per cent interest rate to farmers who return short term crop loans in time.

In Haryana, he said, this interest was scrapped altogether.

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