Rahul Gandhi of Congress spoke in the Lok Sabha, and his speech came as a reaction to what PM Modi had stated in his Lok Sabha speech. Rahul Gandhi himself declared at the beginning of the speech that, as per the wish of PM Modi, he would talk about “content and intent” of the three farm laws.
As he spoke, he attributed an ‘intent’ to each one of the three farm laws. Let’s check one by one and see whether his attributions have any factual basis.
Claims and Fact
Rahul’s claim: The content of the first law is that one can have unlimited purchase of foodgrains, fruits and vegetables anywhere in the country. If the purchase is unlimited anywhere in the country, then who would go to Mandis? The content of the first law is to finish the mandis.
Facts: As PM Modi himself described, this year’s budget itself provided for the allocation for modernising APMC mandis. The mandi system will continue as before, even as other market avenues have been opened up for the farmers. Rahul Gandhi says that ‘one can purchase unlimited foodgrains’. But he fails to see from the farmers’ perspective that ‘farmer can sell his produce to anywhere for higher price.’
While the laws by Modi government creates more avenues besides mandi system, it is Rahul Gandhi’s Congress that actually promised to finish the mandis in its 2019 general election manifesto. “Congress will repeal the APMC act” was the promise.
Rahul’s claim: The content of the second law is that big businessmen can store as much food grains, fruits and vegetables as they want. They can hoard as much as they want. Content of the second law is to end the Essential Commodities Act. It is, to start unlimited hoarding in India.
Facts: Participation of private entities in storage started long-back under Congress-led UPA government.
Again, the Congress manifesto 2019 had categorically stated that it will repeal the Essential Commodities Act.
There are safeguards in the law that will prevent hoarding during emergency situation.
When certain agriculture items are under Essential Commodities Act, private players were under constant fear of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. Now, they are assured of the freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply. This will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector. Preventing wastage will help both farmers and the consumers with fair price.
Interestingly, the very fruit and vegetables’ hording that Rahul Gandhi was railing about was first undertaken in 2013, was first prescribed by Rahul Gandhi as the UPA government was facing backlash from the public on corruption and price rise alongside economic mismanagement. So how is it that what is sauce for the goose cannot be sauce for the gander?
Rahul’s claim: The content of the third law is that when a farmer goes before the biggest businessman of India to demand the right price for his crops, he will not be allowed to go to the Court.
Fact: Contrary to the claim, the farm laws provide legal framework when farmers enter into contract with any trader or businessmen. The evidence is already visible, as there are reports showing farmers using the law to get their due.
Thus, Rahul Gandhi’s rhetoric, as in the case of earlier instances as well, ended up exposing Congress itself.