Far from doubling farmer income, Centre doubles input costs: Harsimrat Badal

New Delhi:  Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday said far from doubling farmer income as promised, the Union government had presided over the doubling of the input costs of farmers even as minimum support price (MSP) on food grains was hiked by two to five per cent annually during the last eight years.

Speaking in Lok Sabha, she emphatically asked how much of the additional spending of Rs 4 lakh crore grant being sought by the government would reach the farmers.

Asserting that farmers wanted to be ‘atmanirbhar’ and did not want to live on doles, the Bathinda MP said: “What is needed is guaranteed crop procurement on MSP as well as fixation of MSP as per the Swaminathan formula to ensure a 50 per cent profit to farmers on the total cost of production of a crop”.

She said the first step in this direction was reconstitution of the MSP committee as per the written assurance given to agitating farmers when they lifted their protest one year back.

“The government should also make MSP a legal right as promised to farmers to ensure its aim of doubling farmer income can be achieved.”

Giving facts, Harsimrat Kaur said while the price of diesel had almost doubled during the last eight years, the prices of fertilisers like urea had increased from Rs 175 per 50 kg bag to Rs 270 for a 45 kg bag.

She said similarly the price of DAP had increased from Rs 1, 125 per bag to Rs 1, 350 per bag. She also detailed how pesticides and seeds were attracting a GST of 18 and 12 per cent respectively and tractors that of 28 per cent.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader also spoke on how Punjab was being discriminated against.

She said an attempt was being made to snatch away the river waters of the state bypassing the riparian principle which gave Punjab exclusive rights over its river waters.

“A sinister conspiracy has also been unleashed to dilute Punjab’s right over Chandigarh as its state capital.”

She said this was being done despite the fact that the Central government had reiterated Punjab’s right over Chandigarh in 1970 and the Rajiv-Longowal accord had also been ratified by the Parliament.

She said it was unfortunate that Punjab, which had suffered during Congress rule at the Centre, was now again suffering under the present dispensation.

She also made an appeal for the release of Sikh detainees incarcerated in prisons even after completion of their life terms.

She said it was unfortunate that despite a written order declaring the commutation of life sentences of all Sikh detainees as well as commutation of the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana during the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev, they had still not been released.

She said in stark contrast, Bilkis Bano rapists had been released which had sent a wrong message to the Sikh community.

Meanwhile, Harsimrat Kaur also requested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to increase GST on government advertisements while detailing how the AAP government in Punjab had increased advertisement expenditure from Rs 20 crore per annum to Rs 750 crore.

“Much of this has been spent to contest assembly elections in Himachal and Gujarat, ” the MP said, while calling for a stop to such misuse of the public exchequer.