New Delhi: The National Conference Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Tuesday accused the BJP for misleading the people and said during his tenure as the Union Cabinet Minister, he had only talked about bringing reforms in the APMC and not about the kind of new laws enacted by the Centre.
Responding to the BJP allegation about his double standards on APMC, Sharad Pawar said, "I had only talked that APMC (Agriculture Produce marketing committee) needs reform and the APMC Act should continue but with reforms."
"There is no doubt that I had written the letter, but they are just trying to divert the attention," added Pawar.
The BJP has accused the UPA of double standards after citing Sharad Pawar's letter to the Chief Ministers during his tenure as the Union Agriculture Minister.
The 2010 letter that has surfaced now shows him conversing with the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The letter sought to amend the APMC Act to allow private sector participation.
While flagging the letter, the BJP is saying that this step is exactly what the Modi government has taken now, which is coming under fire from Opposition leaders like the Maratha strongman.
In the letter dated August 11, 2010, Pawar, the then Agriculture Minister in the UPA 1 government wrote to Dikshit in which he said private sector participation in the agriculture sector is essential for which an appropriate regulatory and policy environment needs to be in place.
"As you are aware, the agriculture sector needs well-functioning markets to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in rural areas of the country. This requires huge investments in marketing infrastructure, including cold chain," Pawar wrote to Dikshit.
"In this context, the need to amend the present state APMC Act on the lines of Model State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act 2003 to encourage the private sector in providing alternative competitive marketing channels in the overall interest of farmers/producers and consumers cannot be overemphasised", Pawar had said.
Pawar mentioned that he had written two earlier letters in 2005 and 2007 on this issue.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday urged farmers to avoid the "propaganda" being spread. He assured them that "the MSP and mandis will also continue".
"New agricultural reform laws will bring prosperity in the lives of farmers. Investment in cold store and food processing industry in the country will increase and farmers will be able to have sufficient storage," Tomar said in a series of tweets.
The Minister further said the "Minimum Support Price (MSP) and mandis will also continue and farmers will be able to sell their crops anywhere they wish".