NEW DELHI: Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, here on Saturday, reminded the Narendra Modi government of its 'raj dharma' towards farmers, saying they were suffering due to its policies and were forced to celebrate "black Diwali".
In a detailed statement, Sonia Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after coming to power had started cheating farmers.
"They promised farmers 50 per cent more return on the amount spent on crops by increasing the minimum support price (MSP). But year after year, the BJP government worked in the interest of a few middlemen and hoarders by looting crores of rupees from farmers," she said.
Firing salvos at the BJP government over the condition of farmers across the country, she said, "Why are farmers forced to celebrate black Diwali on the eve of festival of lights."
Citing examples of the condition of agriculture markets, the Congress parliamentary party (CPP) chairperson said, several of them were buying kharif crops across the country at 8-37 per cent lower than MSPs.
"On an average, kharif crops are being sold in the market 22.5 per cent below the MSP," she said.
Farmers growing pulses, soyabean, sunflower, bajra were not getting the value of their produce, she said and added, paddy farmers were being harassed and their crops were being purchased Rs 200 below the MSP of Rs 1,835 per quintal on account of moisture content.
The Congress interim chief said, in 2019-20 about 140.57 million tonnes of kharif crop was expected to be produced. But as the agriculture markets were buying the crop 22.5 per cent below the MSP, farmers were set to lose over Rs 50 thousand crore, she added.
Given the BJP government's record of increasing the MSP for rabi crops -- it has raised 4-7 per cent of the MSP in the last few years -- a question mark hanged over the support price for rabi crops in 2020-21, she said.
Sonia slammed the BJP government for the goods and services tax (GST) on tractors, fertilisers and other agricultural equipments, and said it had increased farmers' burden. Even the price of diesel was rising constantly, she added.
She demanded the government to stop harassing farmers and ensure right price for farm produces, "which is a government's raj dharma'.