Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, whose party was accused by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of taking an about-turn on agricultural reforms by supporting the farmers' protest, on Saturday rebuffed the attack with the same question.
"'We should protect farmer's interests by mandating through statutory provisions that no farmer-trader transaction should be below MSP' - recommends the Report on Consumer Affairs under Chairmanship of Gujarat CM @narendramodi in 2011. What about this U-turn, Madam FM @nsitharaman?" Mr Ramesh tweeted, along with screenshots of the report.
“We should protect farmer's interests by mandating through statutory provisions that no farmer-trader transaction should be below MSP”—recommends the Report on Consumer Affairs under Chairmanship of Gujarat CM @narendramodi in 2011.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) February 13, 2021
What about this U-turn, Madam FM @nsitharaman? pic.twitter.com/tIxUnRztmK
The question came after Ms Sitharaman, responding to the opposition's charges over the new farm laws that have triggered widespread protests by farmers, attacked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his party for "U-turns" in their support of the growers.
"I wanted to know from the Congress why it took a U-turn on the farm laws but no reply came," she said, questioning the party for backing similar reforms in the past and adding that Mr Gandhi had failed to explain why Congress governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh did not waive farm loans, as promised in their manifestos.
She also criticised Mr Gandhi's understanding of the new agriculture laws, which the centre says will help farmers by allowing them to sell at markets and prices of their choice.
"Have APMCs (mandis) been closed after the introduction of the Farmers Act? He (Mr Gandhi) was speaking like they had been... They (the new laws) are also helping improve the condition of APMCs. He (Mr Gandhi) is insulting everyone... whether President, Prime Minister or Speaker... constantly lying and insulting the country," Ms Sitharaman raged.
Thousands of farmers who fear the new laws passed in September mean the closure of mandis, or traditional wholesale markets, have been protesting on the outskirts of Delhi since November. The opposition has flagged this issue, among others, saying it will lead to large-scale job losses.