New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Union Cabinet on Monday approved an increase in minimum selling price (MSP) for Rabi crops, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced in the Lok Sabha. The move comes as a bid to placate the angry farmers who fear that the recently approved farm bills will end the MSP support.

The decision to increase MSP of crops like wheat, lentil, barley, gram, rapeseed, mustard and safflower for the 2021-22 season was taken at the Union Cabinet meeting held earlier in the day.  

The announcement comes a day after the two farm bills - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 - passed the Parliament test. 

Following the passage of the two contentious bills amid severe criticism by the Opposition, which even led to the suspension of eight Opposition MPs including Trinamool Congress' Derek O' Brien and AAP's Sanjay Singh by Rajya Sabha Speaker M Venkaiah Naidu, farmers unions across Punjab and Haryana called for protests in the coming days, including a total shutdown on September 25. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday tried to allay the fears of farmers, assuring that the government purchase of their produce coupled with the minimum support price mechanism will continue.

With opposition parties vehemently criticising the legislations as "anti-farmers" and protests continuing in states like Punjab and Haryana, PM Modi again mounted a strong defence of these measures, saying farmers will now have the freedom to sell their produce at a place and price of their choice.

Attacking critics, he said a "clique" of people exploited farmers for long as they remained in shackles of rules regulating the sale of their produce and stated that this needed to change, which his government has done.

"After these historical changes in the agricultural sector, some people are losing their control of it. So now these people are trying to mislead farmers on MSP (minimum support price). They are the same people who sat for years on the recommendations of the Swaminathan committee on MSP," PM Modi said, in an apparent swipe at the Congress.

Describing the legislations as "very historic", the prime minister said if somebody says that government-regulated agriculture markets will be finished after these reforms, then he is "blatantly lying".

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta