ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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THE Prime Minister's off-the-cuff announcement at Hussainiwalla on March 23 that farmers in Punjab would be paid a 'bonus' of Rs 5 on every quintal of wheat sold by them to government procurement agencies brought out how political opportunism dominates the government's policy-making. Just two days before the Prime Minister's statement the Union Minister of Agriculture had announced in Parliament that the procurement price for wheat of the 1984-85 crop, to be marketed in 1985-86, had been fixed by the government at Rs 157 per quintal. While making the announcement the Agriculture Minister had emphasised that this procurement price "would be adopted by all the public procurement agencies in all the states and Union Territories"- The Prime Minister's offer to Punjab farmers, however, made nonsense of this decision, for now while farmers in the rest of the country would be paid Rs 157 per quintal, Punjab farmers would get Rs 162 per quintal. The practice of state governments offering their farmers bonuses over and above the support or fair prices fixed by the Central government has been criticised, including by the Central government. But here was the Prime Minister quite casually offering favoured treatment to farmers of a particular state.

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