Pic credit: PTI
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has lashed out at Union Minister Piyush Goyal as the latter had directed the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh to ensure a direct online payment system for the farmers in Punjab. Strongly reacting to Goyal's letter, Sidhu opined that the Union Minister is trying to create a division in Punjab. The Congress leader also asserted that in the system of agriculture economy, middlemen are the backbone of the system. This statement of Sidhu comes in opposition to the new farm laws, which according to the agriculture economists and experts, aim to remove the middlemen so as to increase the revenue of the farmers who cultivate the crops yet receive less revenue as a major chunk of the revenue is grabbed by the middlemen.
While addressing a press conference, Sidhu said, "Piyush Goyal has written a letter to Captain Sahab (Amarinder Singh). To create a division in Punjab. Goyal Sahab categorically talked about direct payment. He said that Goyal is aware of everything that Punjab's revenue department has in its land records. National Sample Survey 2012-13 says that 24 per cent of farming is done on contract. I will add to it, that it is done on oral contracts and not written ones. He (Piyush Goyal) has no records of the contracts."
Adding further Sidhu said, "This system of agriculture economy, (Aarhti) middlemen are the backbone of it. You say ease of doing business, but the thing is - work is going on in good faith. How many of you will work on registration. Let me see how many will do it. You say Haryana will do it. Let me see how many will do it there."
Sidhu also called PM Modi's vision of one nation one market, a "biggest lie", while adding that the Central government is creating "one nation two markets".
Towing the lines of Rahul Gandhi who has repeated fired the crony capitalist narrative by naming the two industrialists, Sidhu said, "Who will sell it to Adani-Ambani. You (Piyush Goyal) are promoting private mandis. You are promoting Adani-Ambani."
He called it a "conspiracy to dismantle the APMC system" and termed it an "economic blackmail", despite the Central government repeatedly informing that the APMC mandi system and Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism will continue even after the implementation of the new farm laws.
Sidhu's statements came is in view of Piyush Goyal's letter to CM Amarinder Singh a few days back, asking him to implement the long overdue e-payment system which has been implemented by other states but Punjab is yet to do it despite the extension of the time limit on multiple occasions.
In the letter, Piyush Goyal who is the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, had stated that the Government of India (GOI) has been requesting the Punjab government to streamline their procurement and payment procedure in line with GOI's guidelines of direct online payment to farmers and compliance of Public Finance Management System (PFMS), since 2018.
Goyal added that the state government has time and again sought an extension of the timeline and despite giving sufficient time to comply with the guidelines, the state has not implemented the direct payment system. Goyal's letter comes after the food ministry sent a letter earlier in March asking the state government to implement the online payment system. Food Ministry letter had stated that MSP in Punjab is disbursed through Aarhtiyas (middlemen/commission agents). The Food Ministry's said that the direct online payment system to farmers was followed by a majority of states except for Punjab.