Congress takes lead in reaching out to apple growers in Himachal Pradesh : The Tribune India

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Congress takes lead in reaching out to apple growers in Himachal Pradesh

Congress takes lead in reaching out to apple growers in Himachal Pradesh


Tribune News Service

Subhash Rajta

Shimla, May 15

Apple growers have set their eyes on the manifestos of the Congress and the BJP, and ears on the announcements being made by the leaders of these two parties. “We are in a wait and watch mode at the moment. Once both the parties spell out their vision and plans for fruit growers, we will take our decision,” said Sanyukt Kisan Manch (SKM) convener Harish Chauhan.

The SKM claims support of 27 associations of apple growers, stone fruit growers and vegetable growers. “Roughly around 2.5 lakh families are involved in apple cultivation in the state. We have significant presence in at least 21 Assembly constituencies of the Shimla and the Mandi parliamentary constituencies,” said Chauhan. With a significant presence in so many constituencies, it will be tough for any political party to remain indifferent to their concerns and demands.

According to Chauhan, the Congress has taken the lead in reaching out to the fruit growers. “The Congress promised to give legal guarantee to MSP in its manifesto. Besides, Rahul Gandhi has announced that growers will get a loan waiver and Priyanka Gandhi has promised to remove GST from farm inputs and equipment,” said Chauhan. “At the state level, the Congress government has accepted our long-standing demand to introduce universal carton for the packaging of the fruit,” he added.

The major demands of the apple growers include raising import duty on apple to 100 per cent from the current 50 per cent, restoration of budget for Market Intervention Scheme, abolition of GST on farm inputs and equipment, loan waiver and subsidies on fertilisers and pesticides.

“We will wait for a few more days for the BJP to make its announcements. If they make any such announcements, we will go to the people with the promises of both the parties. And then we will collectively decide which party is offering us a better deal and we will then chalk out our course of action,” he said.

The BJP, on the other hand, maintains that it has done a lot more for the farmers and fruit growers than the Congress. “There are several schemes like Kisan Samman Nidhi, solar fencing, etc., benefiting farmers and fruit growers,” said Sanjeev Deshta, president of the state BJP Kisan Morcha.

“As for raising the import duty on apple, we must not forget that it was Congress Minister Anand Sharma who signed an agreement with the WTO during UPA II to fix the import duty at 50 per cent. Nevertheless, when our government is formed for the third time, we will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the import duty to 100 per cent,” said Deshta.

Promises legal guarantee to MSP

The Congress promised to give legal guarantee to MSP in its manifesto. Besides, Rahul Gandhi has announced that growers will get a loan waiver and Priyanka Gandhi has promised to remove GST from farm inputs and equipment. — Harish Chauhan, sanyukt kisan manch (skm) convener

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