India

"Akalis Quit Government Over A Rumour?": Shiv Sena's Dig At BJP

Shiv Sena launched a spirited attack on former ally BJP during the discussion on farm bills

New Delhi:

The Shiv Sena launched a spirited attack on former ally BJP during the discussion on farm bills today. Questioning the BJP's repeated assurance that the bills will not affect the Minimum Support Price of produce -- one of the key areas of concern for farmers -- the Sena questioned if the Akali Dal had quit the government just on basis of a "rumour".

The Akalis -- the oldest partners of the BJP who initially supported the big-ticket bills -- walked out from the government last week, saying a two-month discussion with the BJP on the subject has made no difference. The party -- under pressure from farmers and the Congress -- also said it would review the partnership at an internal meeting.

Today, the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut said "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the system of MSP will not end in the country and the rumor is being spread about it...So has the Shiromani Akali Dal resigned from the government only on the basis of this rumor?"

"Through these laws, you are creating two different markets -- inside the market and outside the market... slowly some system is going into corporate hands," Mr Raut said.

With Maharashtra having one of the highest number of farmer suicides in the country, Mr Raut also questioned if the government can "assure the country that after the passing of the agriculture reform Bills, farmers' income will double and no farmer will commit suicide".

The BJP insists that the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, and the Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, are "historic" and will bring a change in the lives of the farmers.

Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar, who presented the bills in the Upper House, also reiterated the government's assurance that the bills will not affect the MSP.

"MSP will continue as before. I had said this in Lok Sabha and PM Modi himself has assured that the MSP will not be tampered with," Mr Tomar said.

The opposition, which lacked the numbers to effectively block the bills, pushed to send them to a select committee for further discussion and possible re-draft.

Mr Raut - whose party ended its 35-year alliance with the BJP over power sharing in Maharashtra -- today insisted that a special session should be called to discuss these Bills.