RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has trained its guns on Ramesh Chand, the agriculture expert member in the Narendra Modi government's apex think tank Niti Aayog, for suggesting that the government's plan to expand the scope of minimum support price (MSP) to more crops is inflationary.
In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, SJM has sought empirical evidence to prove Chand's claim and, in case it doesn't happen, called for 'appropriate' action against him.
"We are writing this letter with a deep grouse, feeling of being hurt and utter sorrow. There are reports that the NITI Aayog's Member Agriculture, Ramesh Chand, is making statements of calling Minimum Support Price (MSP) offered by your government as inflationary. This is not only insult to the political leadership, which has taken this great decision keeping the interests of farmers in mind, but is also an ill-informed and malicious statement," the letter said.
SJM demands that government should ask Ramesh Chand to provide the empirical study, source or minutes of stakeholder consultations done to reach these conclusions. "If he fails to do the same; we demand that appropriate action be taken in this regard," it stated.
Ashwani Mahajan, All India Co-Convenor, SJM, said that they have found that MSP keeps farmer and farming alive, and has for a long period aided production. "We at Swadeshi Jagran Manch find the report titled 'Ensuring MSP benefits for farmers' and the statement - the combined effect of the two budget announcements on farm level prices will be about 15 percent, transmission of this increase to wholesale and retail levels will have very strong implication for inflation and consumers- to be a blatant lie, and adds insult to the injury of farmers", he said.
SJM claims that its analysis and discussions with various experts find this report far from reality. "If taken as the basis for the policy framing, this will detract the great effort made by your government of increasing the MSP", the letter said. It also quoted several studies to buttress its argument.
"In last three years, there are several evidences coming out of NITI Aayog, which forces us to believe that the think-tank is pushing corporate agenda. In this case, with the suggestions of 'market reforms' in agriculture and is pushing introduction of future trading in agriculture produce, this is despite the fact that infrastructure is not there", the letter stated.
Mahajan said that Chand is deliberately overlooking the fact that futures trading in commodity exchanges are causing havoc by unthinkable inflation in food and other agriculture produce. "This only benefits the cash rich corporates and middleman, not the poor farmer", says the letter.
According to SJM, MSP is a very critical element in Indian farming in deciding crop allocation, procurement, buffer stock and market price." In last 25 years, the rural distress in India has increased -one of the reasons behind this is non-remunerative prices of the farm produce. The distress is a critical component in pushing farmers to commit suicides. We really appreciate your (Prime Minister's) concern for the farmers and poor of this country, and appreciated an 'apt decision of fixing Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers for all crops will lift farm-gate prices by 15 percent and raise rural incomes', " the letter said.