Attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for opposing the new agricultural laws , Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda on Sunday posted an old video on social media that shows the Wayanad MP speaking in favour of weeding out middlemen so that farmers get fair remuneration for their produce.
The BJP and the Congress have been at loggerheads over the contentious farm bills that farmers from northern India are demanding be repealed, saying they would reduce the bargaining power of cultivators and leave them at the mercy of corporate entities..The BJP has accused the opposition party of politicizing the issue and criticising measures the Congress itself had proposed when it was n power.
In the video posted on microblogging site Twitter, which is from a portion of a speech made by Gandhi in the Lok Sabha in May 2015, the Congress leader is seen supporting the removal of middlemen and allowing farmers to sell directly to buyers.
“A few years back, during my trip to Uttar Pradesh, a farmer asked me to explain the magic behind a packet of potato chips costing Rs 10 while they sell potato for Rs 2 per kg. I asked what they thought was the reason for this; the farmer said factories are located very far from us and if we could sell our produce directly there, we will get all the money without middlemen earning any cut,” Gandhi is heard saying in the video and explaining the rationale for setting up a food park.
Using the video to alleged double-speak by the Congress leader, Nadda tweeted: “What is this magic happening, Rahulji? What you were earlier advocating, now you are opposing. You have nothing to do with the interest of country or farmers. You want to play politics. But your hypocrisy will not work… the people and the farmers have realised your dual character.”
The Congress said the video did not show the speech in its full context.
Congress leader Ravneet Singh Bittu told a television channel that Gandhi was talking about states such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, where minimum support prices were not paid to farmers.
“…This is what we have been saying that in states such as Bihar, FCI does not buy (farm) produce; this is what we are trying to tell Mr Nadda. FCI gives proper rates for produce in Punjab, in Haryana and some parts of UP,” Bittu said. FCI is short for the Food Corporation of India, the government’s food procurement agency.
Thousands of farmers have camped on Delhi’s borders since November 26 to protest against the farm laws that allow agribusinesses to trade with minimal regulation, permit traders to stockpile large quantities of food commodities for economies of scale and lay down new contract farming rules.Farmers say the new rules favour big corporations to whom they will lose business and gradually end the system of state-set minimum prices.
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