Amid growing debate over the farmers’ protest, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief and former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday, 30 January, opined that the three agriculture laws passed by the Centre will impact the MSP procurement infrastructure and would weaken the Mandi system that has been in place for years.
In a series of tweets, Pawar, who held the agriculture portfolio for a decade under UPA I and UPA II, added that it is the MSP system that must be ensured and then strengthened. A few hours later, Union Minister of Agriculture responded to Pawar’s criticism.
What Did Sharad Pawar Say?
He also said that the collection of fees from private markets and aspects such as dispute resolution and trade licencing would be hit as powers of the Mandi system would be weakened.
Speaking on the removal of limits on stockpiling of food grains, pules, onion, potato and oilseeds, Pawar said that the move “may lead to apprehensions that corporates may purchase commodities at lower rates and stockpile and sell at higher prices to consumers.”
He also expressed concern over amendments made to the Essential Commodities Act, which provide for government intervention, “only if rates of horticultural produce are increased by 100 percent and that of non perishable items increased by 50 percent.”
What Did Tomar Say in Response to Pawar?
Responding directly to Pawar’s criticism, Tomar shared five tweets.
The first read, “Sharad Pawar ji is a veteran politician and a former Union Agriculture Minister, who is also considered well-versed with the issues & solutions relating to Agriculture. He has himself tried hard to bring the same agriculture reforms earlier.” He went on to take on Pawar and said:
“Since he (Pawar) speaks with some experience and expertise on the issue, it was dismaying to see his tweets employ a mix of ignorance & misinformation on the agriculture reforms. Let me take this opportunity to present some facts...”
He explained how under the new system, mandis will not get affected but be more effective, and added that considering the ‘veteran leader’ Pawar was, he ‘would like to believe that Pawar was genuinely misinformed’.