April 22, 2015 3:08:47 am
The Congress today accused Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh of misleading the country over the extent of the damage to crops, and suggested it was breach of privilege.
Singh said in the Lok Sabha Monday that the first assessment of 181 lakh hectares was based on initial telephonic information from states. He said this estimate was reduced to 80 lakh hectares during a videoconference between the PM and the states.
“The minister made extremely contradictory assertions with the sole aim of misleading the House by stating that area of damaged crops of farmers was assessed at 80 lakh hectares at the time of videoconferencing held by the Prime Minister,” Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said. “The Agriculture Ministry had issued a statement on March 26 after the videoconferencing that the estimated crop loss has been reduced from 181 lakh hectares to 106 lakh. It proves the area was not reduced to 80 lakh hectares at the time of the videoconferencing.”
Ahmed would not accept the minister’s assertion that the first assessment of 181 lakh hectares was merely based on information collected over telephone. “Seven senior officers of the Agriculture Ministry had gone to seven big states to conduct an assessment of damage. Hence, the assessment of 181 lakh hectares resulted on account of memorandums of loss submitted by state governments as also an assessment conducted by officers of Ministry of Agriculture in seven states,” he said.
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“Mr Modi and company are constantly and unabashedly misleading the nation and duping farmers. The agriculture minister intentionally and deliberately misled not only the Lok Sabha but the entire country. We demand that he come out clean on the issue and apologise to the people,” Ahmed added.
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